Most people have heard of smart home technology, and many have at least one piece of smart tech installed in their homes. However, technological advancements are going beyond the home and into cities across the globe. Smart city technology can benefit both public health and the environment.
The two are more closely linked than you might realize. Nowadays, climate change is impacting our lives on a daily basis. Things like excessive waste and greenhouse gases are already creating a negative impact on our society. Unless cities all over the world start making smarter changes and using tech to their advantage, we could face even greater consequences.
Let’s take a closer look at the connection between public and environmental health, and how smart cities can create a brighter, better, and cleaner future for everyone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 24% of all global deaths are linked to the environment somehow. Some of the greatest environmental threats to human life include:
- Climate change
- Fine particle matter (air pollution)
- Household pollution
Climate change alone is expected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030-2050. The deaths will largely be from malnutrition, malaria, and stress. While we might not think of these things as problems in the U.S., they will quickly create dire situations if we don’t take charge and start to heal the environment.
Cities, especially, can be at a greater risk of environmental health issues. Many cities across the country have poor air quality and higher rates of pollution. As a result, the risk of cardiovascular illness and respiratory disease is higher in these areas. People are more likely to suffer from stroke, asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.
Thankfully, some cities are already making the shift toward sustainable living. Places like Seattle, Portland, and San Diego are some of the “greenest” cities in the country thanks to their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and waste. But, it will take more than a few key cities to make a difference. If areas across the globe want to improve the health of people and the environment, utilizing smart tech is necessary.
If you’re unfamiliar with smart city technology, the basis isn’t much different from the tech you might have in your home – but on a larger, more advanced scale. One of the most popular introductions to this type of technology is the installation of electric car charging ports in cities across the country. EVs are more energy efficient and don’t depend on nonrenewable resources, so we can reduce our dependency on harmful fossil fuels. Other examples of smart city tech popping up across the globe include:
- Smart waste management systems
- Energy-efficient street lighting
- Air quality sensors
- Smart traffic control systems
- Solar energy
Things like green spaces are also becoming more popular. Urban parks and wetlands designed to help plant life and encourage openness might not seem very “tech-forward,” but the technology used to create these spaces in crowded cities is nothing short of amazing – and essential.
When it comes to better health initiatives, smart city technology can make it easier for people who might otherwise struggle with getting proper healthcare to get the attention they deserve. Healthcare deserts are more common than you might think in major cities. Smart tech makes it easier for people to connect with healthcare professionals through things like digital records transfers, AI route-planning software for emergency personnel, and even telehealth appointments. When doctors are able to easily access citizen data through smart city tech initiatives, it makes it easier to coordinate care and communicate all aspects of your health from person to person without the risk of missing information.
The great thing about technology is that it never stops advancing. Smarter cities will continue to foster better public health. Through data collection efforts, green cityscapes, improved healthcare deserts, and more dedicated environmental initiatives, we can heal the planet and the health crisis impacting people across the world.
If there was a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it provided the necessary push for us, as a global society, to realize the advanced capabilities of our technology. Throughout the pandemic, people relied on technology for medical care, health information, and so much more. Now, as we enter a post-pandemic society, it’s clear that technology is necessary to create a sustainable society that focuses on improving the health of people and the environment. The more we’re able to cut back on carbon emissions and reduce the effects of global warming, the healthier the population will become, and the statistics shared above will see a dramatic dip. It’s still not too late for more cities across the globe to boost their tech endeavors and foster environments that focus on the well-being of the planet and its people.