With the increase of development plans for smart cities comes an increase in the responsibilities developers must account for. Smart cities are a crucial aspect in future global resource management and aim to optimise efficiency to combat population growth. This focus on efficiency has resulted in a widespread effort towards lower energy consumption. However, there is a comparative lack in effort to reduce water waste. In order to rectify this, governments are starting to address water maintenance, monitoring and conservation in smart cities.
Bill Gates announced plans to build a smart city in Arizona named “Belmont”, which has divided many urban planners.
Whilst the area has great potential for solar energy production, Arizona is in the middle of an on-going water crisis. Most of Arizona acquires its water from the Colorado River, as do neighbouring states California and Nevada; the river has been consistently shrinking since the 1990s, and the addition of another city could potentially accelerate this decline. To legally build the proposed city, developers would need to prove that the area has a 100-year assured water supply, which could be very difficult to do.
One great advantage of building a smart city from scratch is that smart water technologies can be implemented from the offset, rather than having to do so retroactively. It is important to have solid infrastructures and the ability to monitor them accurately. There are negative impacts when these are not in place; Northeast Group stated:
“Even as countries scramble to build water treatment and desalination plans and impose consumption restrictions, emerging market nations are still on average losing 38 per cent of their water due to leaks from crumbling infrastructure and theft.”
There are no excuses for new smart cities to be losing such quantities of water due to infrastructure leaks, with the monitoring technologies available.
Plans for educational campaigns throughout smart cities are being prepared. Unfortunately, many view water as an unlimited resource. Smart cities need to educate residents on how and why they should reduce water usage. Smart technology can be integrated here, by providing residents with real-time water usage data.
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