Smart Cities: Tel Aviv
Smart Cities are the future of the world, with the world’s population increasingly concentrated in cities, and the sheer amount of technological advancement in IoT and connectivity the result is inevitable. The only questions that remain are over the exact programs and policies that will be put in place to help connect citizens, government, and society.
Tel Aviv is one city pushing boundaries, and showing how the rest of the world could integrate technology into every facet of life and society. Smart Cities are built on innovation, and per the chief innovation officer for the Municipality of Tel Aviv, it is one of most progressive and inventive in the world today.
In 2014 at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Tel Aviv was awarded the title Best Smart City in the World – and they haven’t slowed down since then! The smart city vision that they have implemented has help to improve the quality of life for residents through data analysis and community engagement.
Israel currently hosts more start-ups per capita than any other city on earth, making it prime for smart city innovation and scale, with some 30-40% of start-ups in Tel Aviv currently developing some form of smart city technology. The city’s compact nature means it is easier to integrate new ideas into society much quicker than in sprawling metropolis of New York, LA, or Paris – according to Eytan Schwartz, the CEO of Tel Aviv Global, “being a very small city makes things on a citywide level easier, more manageable”.
The smart city platform in Tel Aviv, DigiTel, provides information, benefits, and services to the residents of the City, while learning and processing the data that is accumulated from its various programs to learn more about the citizens and their personal and community needs. The project is facilitated city-wide through free Wi-Fi in public areas, keeping everyone connected throughout Tel Aviv.
The program is currently used by 1 out of every 3 Tel Avivians, and it compiles basic information such as where families live, how big families are, how people commute to work, how they enjoy their free time, while providing information on road repairs, weather alerts, and discounts and offers based on each individual user’s lifestyle and family.
The most innovative part of the program is the DigiTel smartphone app, which can be used to pay water and municipal tax bills, request parking permits, and send photos of broken infrastructure like pot holes, damaged park benches, or malfunctioning street lighting. The app can also provide location based services, advising on local restaurants, parking lots, bike lanes, and other local services.
The platform and its successes are made possible because of three key components – people, processes, and technology. The residents of the community need to be willing to engage with the program, the processes need to be efficient and worthwhile for them to be useful to the residents, and the technology has to be capable of meeting the demands of the city.
The other main pillar of DigiTel is the “Resident’s Card.” It is issued to any citizen over the age of 13 who wants to sign up to the program, and essentially acts like a digitized ID card and can provide discounts on local events or shows. The card also provides access to a personal web-page where residents can get personalized offers, notifications, and can be linked to the DigiTel smart-phone app on their phones.
Tel Aviv has proved that smart city technology is not simply for wealthy and prosperous nations, they have used the technology to address issues like social welfare, culture, urban planning, and water and traffic management. The technology has been used to tackle inefficiencies, improve community services, and help residents to get the best possible experience in the home city.
For example, Green IQ was launched in 2013 to help promote efficient water usage, something critical to a desert-adjacent city like Tel Aviv or any urbanized area attempting to improve sustainability. Their main product is the Smart Garden Hub, which can reduce water consumption by up to 50 percent. It can be controlled via smart-phone app, which tracks the weather and adjusts in-ground drip irrigation according the weather. The program was so successful that is now used to control irrigation on 1000’s of different grounds across the world! Tel Aviv is showing the world what is possible when you combine technology, community, and government.
(Featured image discovered via HRB.org)
By Josh Hamilton