No More Food Insecurity: How Smart Cities are Making Access to Food Equal


Smart technology has taken the world by storm. It’s used in households to control everything from the temperature to the oven timer. But, smart cities have also started to grow in popularity over the last several years. Now, they’re being positioned as a viable solution to reduce social inequalities — including food accessibility.

It can be difficult to believe, but more than 34 million people in the United States deal with food insecurity. Much of that has to do with things like food deserts and underserved communities.

Smart cities are using things like agritech, urban farming, and inclusive food markets to start making a difference and fighting back against American hunger. Let’s take a closer look at how these endeavors are set up to ensure that all people have access to affordable and nutritious options.

How Technology Is Shaping the Food Industry

There’s no question that technology is playing a major role in the food industry. We often think of farming and food growth as something completely natural. But, without tech, many more of us would be experiencing food scarcity. Today, technology’s impact on the food industry has allowed for increased efficiency in nearly every area of production.

Things like AI and automation are improving distribution, making it easier for more cities to have access to healthy food. AI is already being used to sort fresh produce, manage supply chains, and predict consumer desire so people the food they want and need sooner. Quality control is better than ever thanks to IoT sensors that monitor food temperatures. Robotics have reduced the risk of human error, from farming and production to processing and distribution. As technology continues to change and advance, we’re likely to see even more streamlined efforts that make food more widely available and safer for everyone to eat.

What Are Smart Cities Doing?

The goal of smart cities is to create a more livable future for their residents. By using technology, these cities can improve the urban quality of life in many ways, including making daily commutes less frustrating, improving access to healthcare, and delivering a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

When it comes to making food more accessible to everyone, smart city technology has already made huge strides. Some of the most notable strategies being used today include:

  • Sustainable production of nutritious food for local markets
  • Inclusive food markets that cater to vulnerable urban consumers
  • Educational programs on the importance of healthy eating

Producers are using robotics and automation to promote sustainable production. IoT sensors are ensuring food safety by monitoring temperatures and collecting supply chain data. Health departments are using educational programs like never before thanks to the ability to connect with nutritionists and healthcare professionals across the globe. These strategies aren’t just programs put in place to make food more accessible. They’re utilizing existing technology to keep things moving forward, so food scarcity becomes a thing of the past.

Urban farming and agritech are also making big difference in food-scarce cities. Urban farming refers to any type of cultivation, growth, or processing of food in urban areas. Things like community gardens, rooftop farms, and vertical production facilities are examples of urban farms that have shown promise in bigger cities. In the U.S., New York City and Atlanta are leading the way in urban agriculture.

Agritech is the present and future of food equality. Some examples of agritechnology include:

  • Robots
  • Temperature sensors
  • Moisture sensors
  • GPS technology

This type of technology can be used anywhere. But it’s become especially important in urban areas to maximize farming efforts and monitor the growth and distribution of healthy food so it can reach the people who need it most.

The Future of Food Scarcity

The same tech that is being used today to help underserved communities fight food inequalities will continue to advance. It’s how these technologies are used, however, that will determine how effective the fight against food scarcity will be.

For example, 3D printing is already being used in a variety of industries to cut down on waste and improve production. It can also be used in the food industry to reduce waste by creating more efficient packaging, create healthier options by converting alternative ingredients (like algae) into nutrient-dense treats, and essentially revolutionize food production to make ingredients more widely available for everyone.

Predictive analytics can also help with food deserts and underserved communities, allowing for faster, clearer decision-making within the industry.

Additionally, things like cloud computing and IoT will help to improve everything from supply chain efforts and distribution to higher food safety standards and a reduced risk of foodborne illnesses. IoT devices can keep things safe by monitoring temperatures and maintaining optimal environmental conditions to keep food from “decomposing” quickly. Cloud computing makes it easy to read this data in real-time, and monitor it remotely. IoT devices will also help to monitor things like:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Climate information
  • Crops and cattle

That kind of monitoring can also help farmers determine when it’s time to water and fertilize so that every inch of farmland can be optimized for the greatest output possible.

When it comes to smart tech for agriculture, technologies such as autonomous tractors, robotic planters, and unmanned aerial vehicles can combat some of the common food shortage challenges. By using robotics and automation to boost farming efforts in both urban and rural communities, production will be greater without having to depend on extra labor. Unfortunately, the food insecurity issues we face in this country likely aren’t going anywhere overnight. Urban areas are widely underserved and don’t have the access to healthy options that they should. However, as more cities get “smart” and implement policies and changes that lean into technology, we’ll likely change the way we look at food growth, production, and distribution over the next several years. Hopefully, those changes can bring healthy food options to those who currently don’t have the access they deserve.