Around the world a quiet revolution is transforming the way cities deliver services to their residents.
Although cities have long used isolated Internet of Things (IoT) technologies like smart streetlights or meters, the information they collect has typically been siloed within departments, which has created inefficiencies and made services tough to coordinate.
But today's technology is changing the picture dramatically. Cities are now using location data and services as building blocks for applications that share information internally and interact with residents, nonprofits, and business partners. A dynamic new ecosystem has sprung up, improving everything from emergency response times to budgeting, traffic management, public health, and the environment.
"Location technology is bringing cities a digital canvas of reality, helping them to make better sense of operations, identify gaps in services, and create new solutions," says Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE Technologies, a leader in mapping and location technology.
"In the past, urban design was top down — architects, engineers, and planners implemented their solutions," he says. "In the 21st century, we need a new approach. A city should evolve in a natural way, by a system of trial and error, letting citizens decide which projects they want."
Here are some of the ways location technology is transforming city services.
1. Emergency response.
In the past, emergency operators determined callers' location by looking up the address where the phone was registered, then relaying the information to responders. Addresses were often out of date or irrelevant to the incident location. Location and sensor data have changed everything.