The definition of a ‘smart city’ varies across people and sectors. One definition from the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is that a smart city is a process rather than a static outcome Click & Tweet! through which citizen engagement, hard infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies are combined to make a city more livable and resilient to new challenges.
A Climate Smart City
In the context of climate change, a Climate Smart City is a process that involves a combination of smart efforts Click & Tweet! to improve inhabitants’ quality of life; ensure economic growth; and protect infrastructure and livelihoods from climate change-related risks. Specifically, a Climate Smart City utilizes smart technologies to:
- Engage citizens on climate risks
- Protect quality of life and economic growth through smart planning
- Smarten traditional hard infrastructure
- Preemptively manage climate-related extreme events
Dublin is becoming Climate Smart City
This year, Dublin City University Water Institute and Kingspan Sensor, with support from Dublin City Council, joined forces to develop an affordable smart sensor network for water level monitoring. With real-time capability and an app that can be easily downloaded and accessed by end users, the smart sensor network will send out a warning alert via SMS to local business owners, farmers or households in areas vulnerable to flooding.
Moving forwards, the sensor network can be scaled up as part of a nationwide network of sensors that can be widely deployed to measure water levels in a series of locations to predict flooding and heightened water levels after intense rainfall. Past rainfall data can also be analyzed to reveal the effect on water levels at various points in the catchment.
When used as a predictive tool the network will allow authorities and individuals to react preemptively, rather than reactively, to heavy rainfall. Eventually, it would be possible for the data to inform authorities on where to build flood defenses. The sensors could even be connected to a smart system of automated flood defense barriers Click & Tweet! that are activated autonomously once a warning signal alerting dangerous water levels is received.
Building a Climate Smart City is a process Click & Tweet! that involves communities, digital technologies and hard infrastructure coming together to become resilient to climate change.
*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.