For the first time in human history, more than half of the global population lives in urban areas. This will probably increase to 70% by 2050. For information, cities cover just 2% of the Earth’s surface yet consume about 75% of the world’s resources. So it becomes obvious that cities are the key element when coping with climate change and reduction in the use of resources with Smart Cities concepts.
What is a Smart City ?
Here it is essential that harmony exists or is generated among the spatial, social, economical and environmental aspects of a city and between their inhabitants. This harmony hinges on three key pillars: Earth environment, economic development and social equity. These pillars are balanced through sustainability.
In parallel, “smartness” is expressed by its 6-axes model: smart economy, mobility, environment, people, living and governance. In other words, a city can be called “smart” if investments in human, social capital, traditional (transport), modern information, communication technologies, information and communication infrastructure will fuel sustainable economic development, a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.
A city is seen as an urban metabolism, and the concept of flows and stocks is used to describe and analyse its pushes and statements. This goal is to support design and make decision processes with new techniques and approaches to data acquisition and processing, information visualization and simulation.
For Schmitt, the “Digital Chain” is a concept of data acquisition, data handling and making decision on an architectural scale,
involving design, construction and facility management of buildings. Then, the “digital chain” may be a synonym for the role that Geomatic represents in the context of Smart Cities. Geomatic is the science of acquiring, modeling, analyzing and representing spatially referenced data, then it includes as key disciplines Mensuration, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Cartography and Geoinformatics.
With the help of GIS, cities have already succeeded in conversion managements to a more efficient level. Yet, there is so much remains to make full use of the potential of modern GIS.
Actual, exact and integral data are very crucial for designing, modeling and planning in Smart Cities. Geomatics always has played a significant role when it comes to reality-based data acquisition and processing. For a variety of applications in a Smart City, knowledge about the underlying terrain is crucial. Some applications, like the modeling of urban floods, require very high accuracy and resolution GIS.
The modeling of terrain has been a topic of research for many years. With the increase in datasets, the issue of computational speed for real-time applications, like in man-made and natural hazards monitoring, becomes crucial. Different forms of terrain models exist.
To conclude, where does the future take us? It is easy to predict. Those cities that do not change, that do not forge ahead with the use of innovative urban planning, technological and governance models and intelligent use of resources, those that do not follow the concept of smart cities, perhaps it will be left behind, with all the negative consequences for their population. They may be lose financially, miss the best human talents and suffer economically and environmentally. Yet, in forward-looking cities Geomatics will continue to play an important role in this scenery.