Automation technology has a lot of potential benefits and they can be used to benefit cities worldwide. But this is not to say that there are no risks involved.
As such, it will be important for city planners to consider all the possible risks before implementing automation technology in their projects.
Alternatively, cities can avoid automation technologies altogether and use alternative solutions for the problem faced (e.g. hiring human workers).
Many of the future updates for our society will be used in urban areas. Urban environments are becoming more mega as cities witness exponential growth.
Automation technologies will also be significant contributors to smart cities worldwide, from urban farming to smart water management and much more.
The term ‘smart cities’ has become quite popular and is often used to refer to those cities that have implemented automated infrastructures and are managed through a highly sophisticated IT system.
The concept of smart cities is not new; we already have numerous examples across the world of how automation technology can be used to improve the quality of life of people living in those cities, especially for improving the efficiency of public services.
What Are Automation Technologies For Smart Cities
Automation technologies are used to guide and control the use of resources. They help the city to understand the precious resources, how they should be used, in relation to current requirements and scale.
For example, when water is being supplied to a community, automation technologies can monitor and predict future consumption.
Smart cities have a variety of goals, but they all usually encourage the effective use of physical infrastructure.
The existing service providers will assist in identifying where additional automation solutions need to be applied by combining their expertise in supply or maintenance systems.
To facilitate a successful transition from manual tasks to automated ones, it is necessary for the stakeholders employed with these infrastructures will work together with automation experts, who have adequate knowledge of various facets of urban infrastructure systems.
How Are Automation Technologies For Smart Cities Implemented
Automation technologies can be implemented either by using existing systems or through entirely new systems that have been designed and developed specifically for this purpose.
For example, a smart parking system could be made up of sensors that can detect where vehicles are at any given time and the duration of their stay.
A team of engineers and developers can then design an algorithm that uses this data to determine where these vehicles are located thereby ensuring that they have adequate ways of entering and exiting the city.
Benefits Of Automation Technologies For Smart Cities
There are many different types of smart city technologies, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. Smart city solutions can include everything from smart sensors that monitor traffic and air quality to sophisticated systems that manage energy use and waste disposal.
By integrating these various technologies, cities can become more efficient, sustainable, and livable.
Adoption of IoT communication technologies like low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) and cellular networks like 4G/LTE and 5G is necessary for the implementation of smart city ideas.
There is a growing trend of sustainable smart cities. These are cities that are using technology and artificial intelligence to become more environmentally friendly and efficient.
Smart city initiatives are aimed at reducing traffic patterns, improving public transportation, and increasing the use of renewable energy.
1. Inexpensive Automation Technology
One of the major benefits of automation technology is its low overheads. Low overheads mean that automation technology results in significant cost savings.
It also makes it ideal for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a new business model or for cities to finance infrastructure projects.
2. Reduces Cost Of Operations
There are numerous instances where the cost of operations is reduced because of automation technologies.
For example, waste management is being automated through the use of automatic waste sorting bins which have sensors that determine when a bin is full and need to be emptied. This reduces the cost of operations as compared to when manual workers need to be hired to empty bins.
3. High-Quality Services At Low Cost
Another benefit of automation technology is that it provides high-quality services at low cost and is therefore highly desirable by the city authorities.
For example, waste management becomes cheaper when it’s automated through the use of waste sorting bins, which read sensors that determine when a bin is full and can be emptied by robots.
The benefits in this case are twofold: firstly, more efficient use of resources; secondly, lower costs for certain operations such as rubbish collection and clearance.
This makes automation technologies perfect for towns whose inhabitants often complain about low-quality services provided by public authorities e.g. the low-paid, under-qualified and inefficient waste collectors.
4. More Efficient Operations
Increased automation means increased efficiency in operations. In this case, the reduced costs of wasted resources and better use of resources results in higher efficiency of public services such as water supply, sewerage systems, storm water management and solid waste management.
This is a great benefit for cities because if each person wastes 0.0012 L, then with 1,000,000 inhabitants in a city, wasted resources would be 41 tonnes.
For an individual this is a small amount but when you consider that a city has millions of inhabitants, the wastage becomes significant.
If a city implemented waste sorting bins, this could reduce the wasted resources to such an extent that cities would have less need to spend on public services and it will be easier for them to financially support these services.
5. Improved Quality Of Life
By implementing automation solutions, cities are able to improve the quality of life of their residents. For example, automated parking systems reduce traffic congestion and therefore lower travel times, which improves the quality of life for occupants.
The development of smart city initiatives depends on the implementation of various networking technologies.
6. Reduces Human Labour Cost
The implementation of automation technology reduces the demand for human labour in cities (since these jobs will be replaced by machines) and this in turn reduces the potential for social unrest during times of economic stagnation.
For example, in a city with thousands of residents seeking employment; automation technology can provide these residents with job opportunities that cater to their specific qualifications and interests (e.g. waste disposal) as opposed to having them seek employment by doing manual labor such as rubbish collection or removal of sludge from sewer lines.
7. Minimum Cost Of Operations
Automation technologies can provide minimum cost of operations. For example, this can be achieved through the use of electric vehicle charging stations by means of which electric vehicles are plugged into a socket and are charged when electricity is being supplied to these stations.
This not only minimizes the cost of operation but also reduces the costs incurred in maintaining such facilities as well as infrastructure related to this project.
8. Higher Quality Control At Low Costs
Another benefit is that automation technology allows for more accurate operations and therefore better quality control at lower costs.
For example, in some cities, automated waste sorting bins will have sensors that read sensors that work automatically and determine when a bin is full and need to be emptied by robots.
Risks Of Automation Technologies For Smart Cities
As more and more people move into cities, the demand for smart devices that can help manage climate change and control systems is becoming increasingly important. Security systems are also a top priority for city dwellers, as they seek to protect themselves from crime and other dangers.
Technologies also set the groundwork for the Internet of Things (IoT), a huge network of intelligent objects that cooperate to gather and process data, take actions, and enable smart cities.
The United Nations has long been a proponent of energy efficiency as a way to improve air quality and reduce urban traffic. Smart technology is making it easier for cities to adopt these practices, and the UN is working to promote their use.
1. Loss Of Jobs
Automation technology is likely to result in the loss of jobs because automation often replaces workers who depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
For example, in a city based on the automobile industry, its workers could be replaced by robots that can work 24 hours a day and do not need salaries or food rations. As a result, human workers may lose their jobs and have to seek employment elsewhere.
2. Higher Cost Of Operations
There are situations where automation technologies have higher costs as opposed to implementation of manual tasks. For example, an automated sorting process will probably cost more than a manual sorting process due to additional utilities needed in the former.
Over the next five years, the smart infrastructure segment is anticipated to grow to be the largest.
3. Loss Of Quality Control Due To Accidents
Accidents, despite being rare occurrences, can still occur when machines are involved in certain operations. For example, an automated waste sorting bin will replace a human worker and if this worker is involved in an accident, the results could be deadly for the casualties.
This could lead to loss of lives and damage to property both at a city-wide and personal level.
4. Reduced Security And Safety Of Residents
Since automation technologies are likely to replace human workers with machines that are not only less safe but also have less humanistic sensibilities (no feelings or morals), the security of city residents will eventually be affected.
For example, a city will have to pay more for insurance because its machines are prone to accidents or can be sabotaged without being detected.
5. High Cost Of Operations Due To Malfunctions
In some cases, automated systems experience high downtime and this can result in loss of money overall.
For example, if a city is paying for a machine that works 24/7 but is only working for 20 hours a week due to power outages and other malfunctions, then the costs of operation will be higher over time. In such a scenario the losses will be incurred by both the city and the equipment manufacturers.
6. Loss Of Job Opportunities
Automation technologies result in job losses not only for manual labour workers but also employees that perform managerial roles.
For example, in a city based on services and not manufacturing, employees involved in the repair of machines and instruments could be replaced by less expensive automated robots and this will lead to the loss of job opportunities for these individuals.
7. Increased Costs Due To Malfunctions
There are situations where malfunctions lead to increased costs of operations. For example, if a robot or machine is damaged or broken beyond repair then it will have to be replaced at the expense of the owner.
In the event that the costs of operation are higher than they would have been in the absence of technology then there will be a net increase in costs.
By 2025, it is anticipated that the revenue from smart city infrastructure would equal more than $100 billion USD, accounting for more than 40% of the overall revenue from smart cities worldwide.
8. Loss Of Social Skills And Empathy
Automation technologies are likely to reduce social skills and empathy for humans, especially among individuals whose job involves work with machines.
This is because machines do not require any form of social interaction or emotional bonding and as such its workers will begin to distance themselves from man and feel indifferent if not resentful towards it.
This phenomenon is already being observed among workers who serve technology-based entities (e.g. Facebook or Google) that do not require any form of social interaction or emotional bonding as part of their work.
The future of automation technologies for smart cities is likely to be one of development and growth.
As such, employers and residents will experience the positives and negatives of automation technologies but as long as they can benefit from these technologies then they will continue to adopt them.