The transformation of a regular city into a smart one is achieved through implementation of technology in every aspect of how the city operates. An intelligent city allows for a transactional relationship with every facet of life, for example the transport system, healthcare, or the energy. Smart living enabled by the internet of things not only allows its citizens to live in harmony, but also allows the city authorities to respond more quickly to changes in the environment. This is a big draw card for South Africa, considering the current economic climate as smart cities will mean that everyone can rely on better resources in their everyday lives. Smart cities rely on advanced digital technologies. Since the early 80s, different forms of digital technology are used.
Living in the information age, also referred to as “digital” or “computer age” has created an open gateway to a wealth of technological information, networks and advanced development which has shaped the world as we know it. On observation of first world countries, we see much advancement in the daily lives of those individuals who are harnessing the power of the internet of things. Currently in South Africa we are witnessing some positive changes in some cities.
Cape Town and Stellenbosch are known to be rapidly moving closer towards achieving the digital city status within South Africa. Establishments such as the Silicon Cape Town Initiative are a network of businesses striving to contribute, inform and develop the Western Cape. Cape Town has also implemented “Free Call Lines”, “Smart Cape Facilities”, “eService Offerings” and WiFi hotspots in many public libraries and designated areas within the province. Stellenbosch has also seen much technological and business growth. This region is the birthplace of one of South Africa’s largest social networks, Mxit. Efforts to implement free WiFi access within the region have also proven successful and are just another stepping-stone towards digital city success for the Stellenbosch region.
Another strong contender for the status of a smart city is Braamfontein, which has seen huge investment in digital technology from businesses as well as from the government. The launch of the digital hub, Tshimologong Precinct, promises to contribute to making South Africa a major innovator in the digital technology field.
Only time will tell when we as South Africans will start benefiting from our smart cities and feeling the change in the way in which we run our country, cities and our daily lives. Let’s watch this space and see which city succeeds first.