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Smart cities will take education further

boston smart city

Buildings that know when they need repair, Wi-Fi on every street corner, sensors that tell the garbage trucks where, when and how often to collect and even technology that tells us which streets are more likely to be crime hotspots based upon traffic and movement. It’s just a sample of the things that we could hope to see in a connected smart city.

Essentially as we connect more devices to the Internet – watches, smartphones, cars, buildings and even household items – we have more data at our fingertips upon which to make smarter and more efficient decisions. That in turn makes us smarter and more efficient. And in an age where technology should help us to reduce costs, that’s a good thing.

Predictions are optimistic – according to analyst firm Statista, we will see 3.33 billion connected devices in smart cities by 2018. Gartner predicts that roughly two-thirds of devices will be consumer-owned items, and as the population grows, more data is collected and the city becomes smarter. In theory.

Like anything, cities will require an “internet of things” strategy backed by not just smart technology, but smart people. That’s where higher education comes in. In all of the world’s smart cities, there are smart people – lots of them. They’re being educated to a tertiary level in university and college campuses that are increasingly digital in nature and attract some of the brightest national and international students to their gates. Not only that, many of those universities are at the core of the transformation from industrial to information-based economies. It’s a symbiotic lifecycle where urbanization drives the demand for education because of the higher-level skills requirement of the economy, whilst education drives urbanization because its where educated and skilled people choose to live and find work.

Universities must work in close collaboration with city leaders and businesses to ensure they play a pivotal role in developing and testing new technologies, turning ideas into prototypes and unlocking and analyzing urban data for the good of citizens. The result is an attractive city to work and live in driven by a strong knowledge economy, and universities that offer their students a 21st Century digital experience when studying. The digital campuses will turn out digital graduates that become smart citizens.

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