Five years ago, I lived in Bangalore, a 500-year-old city that has exploded into a global technology hub over the last decade – with people pouring in from around the country and around the world to take part in newly formed creative and business innovations.

But alongside rising incomes and new art galleries, breweries and coworking spaces have come devastating environmental problems. Waste pileups on streets, lakes catching on fire, and air pollution, which I couldn’t see but did feel in the form of a permanent cold throughout my time in “India’s Silicon Valley.”

Air pollution is a huge problem, both around the world and in the US. A recent, widely-cited study found that more than 95 percent of the world’s population is breathing “unhealthy” air, making it the  fourth highest cause of death globally.

 As a team member of a cleantech public relations firm, I started thinking about potential technology solutions to this wicked problem.  That’s when I thought about Antenna’s work with smart cities.

“Smart cities” is a buzz-y term nowadays, but at its core, it’s about using data and digital connectivity to create new, specific solutions to ongoing urban problems — particularly ones too complex and intertwined with other problems for simple fixes.

In the case of air pollution, advances in smart cities technologies can offer

  • Monitoring and analysis of air pollution emissions with connected air quality sensors to better understand the problem
  • Replacing fossil fuel power plants with renewable energy through networks of small-scale energy resources such as solar plants that are controlled and/or coordinated using Internet of Things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Accelerate the shift to electric vehicles through networks of fast-charge stations and replacing internal-combustion municipal vehicles with EVs
  • Making riding a bike or taking a bus more convenient than driving, through data-driven tools such as continuous traffic congestion monitoring or bike share apps

Air quality is just one challenge for urban centers around the world that the interconnected technologies and systems under the Smart Cities umbrella can help solve quickly and cost-effectively. As political leaders become better-informed and technology providers create new partnerships and opportunities to combine their innovations,

Educating leaders (and everyone else) and facilitating new connections among smart cities stakeholders are what Smart Cities Silicon Valley (held in the Bangalore of the West!) is all about. The more businesses, policymakers and communities can communicate and coordinate as cities become smarter, the greater the benefits (environmental, social and economic) will be.

Antenna will be at Smart Cities Silicon Valley!  Are you planning on going? Schedule a chat with us! 

 

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