A record number of us are now living in cities, and that trend is expected to only gather momentum this century as the world population soars.
Experts at the recent VERGE conference in London regarded the issue of rapid urbanization as a double-edged sword: It presents new opportunities as well as challenges when it comes to sustainability. And industry analysts say “smart” cities using advanced data analytics will be essential if urban population centers are to thrive.
The technology sector is already working on solutions. Germany’s SAP (NYSE: SAP), the world’s largest business software company, has just launched what it calls its “Urban Matters” program. The initiative will reportedly help urban centers develop more effective governments and better run cities. According to SAP, the initiative’s focus is five-fold:
- Supporting the fundamentals of good government
- Empowering public officials to be more productive
- Increasing community engagement and openness
- Driving innovation around government service delivery
- Improving urban resilience to help ensure public safety and security
The company currently has a presence in more than 50 countries, and is already working with a wide spectrum of urban governments on a variety of issues.
“In India and China, we are helping innovate around urban transportation,” said Sean Patrick O’Brien, global lead with SAP’s urban management and public safety. “[I]n Australia and the U.K., we are helping innovate around public safety; in Germany and the U.S., we are helping to innovate around good governance; in the Nordics and South Africa, we are helping deliver service innovation; in Austria and the Nordics, we are innovating around community engagement. With SAP Urban Matters, we are taking our existing expertise, experience and technology innovations to a new level.”
SAP believes that by improving services such as better tax and revenue collection, opening up government, addressing social inclusion issues and increasing public safety, it will address the main challenges currently affecting areas coping with rapid urbanization -- while creating “smarter” economies, more connected citizens and sustainable growth.
And as more urban governments embrace the concept of sustainability, experts expect some of the best innovations to come from within those urban societies, as these communities search for ways to improve their futures.
Related GreenBiz articles about sustainable cities:
- Exploring Cities of the Future -- and the Future of Cities
- Why the world needs a better way to measure cities' emissions