The Smart City ProjectThrough a combination of STEM education, infrastructure and trade with industrialized countries, many formerly underdeveloped nations have seen significant growth in economic output and improved quality of life, especially Asian countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea. Halfway across the world from those countries, a massive well of largely untapped potential lies in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos houses nearly 15 million people, making it the most populated city in Africa. A combined effort from the Nigerian government and various private enterprises aims to revolutionize tech infrastructure in Lagos and spur economic growth through the Smart City project.

Making the Change

The Smart City project is led by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, assisted by several individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors. The government has assigned a budget of 250 million nairas (around $640,000) toward research on tech infrastructure in Lagos under the management of the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council, which will invest in fields such as AI, robotics, biomedical informatics and sustainable energy. The Smart City project aims for multi-level integration, with the government providing funds and direction for the private sector. This strategy aims to improve tech infrastructure in Lagos and increase the city’s productivity.

The Plans

Lagos is a city with a very large population. Nonetheless, the people of Lagos are limited to a space of less than 4,000 square miles, resulting in immense pressure on existing infrastructure and transportation systems. According to Sanwo-Olu, one of the premier goals of the Smart City project is to construct an intricate rail network that would allow for much more efficient transportation of people and goods, along with remodeled roads, airports and seaports.

Tech infrastructure in Lagos will also be improved through the installation of “3,000 kilometers of fiber metro network cables and broadband infrastructure.” This will provide high-speed internet access to offices, homes, healthcare buildings and schools. High-speed internet would increase productivity and allow for increased connectivity between organizations and the possibility of learning or working remotely, if necessary.

To help sustain technological progress for the future, the government has also sponsored student participation in a new program, the 774 Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award. This program aims to promote interest in STEM subjects among young Nigerians and encourage youth participation to innovatively solve the challenges within Nigeria. The fact that more than 66% of the population of Lagos are younger than 30 makes it certain that the future of Nigeria lies in the hands of the youth. As such, Nigeria aims to prioritize and empower young Nigerians.

The Progress

The installation of network cables is well underway with 3,000 kilometers of fiber cables laid in the ongoing first phase of plans. According to Sanwo-Olu, the Nigerian government has funded more than 20 innovative startups “in areas such as agriculture-tech, environmental tech, educational technology and small-scale manufacturing.” The government has also financially supported more than 70 research programs in four educational institutions.

Sanwo-Olu’s administration has also secured funding for the Fourth Mainland Bridge, which is slated for construction in December 2021 and will be the longest bridge in Africa upon completion. Another project slated for completion in 2021 is the Imota Rice Mill. The mill will be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and will create more than 250,000 jobs for Nigerians.

The government and people of Lagos have made great strides to modernize tech infrastructure in Lagos. The Smart City project has the potential to transform Lagos into a tech powerhouse. Such a development has the potential to reduce poverty throughout Nigeria.

Sawyer Lachance
Photo: Flickr

Smart Cities Benefit AlgeriaAccording to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), 14 million people are living beneath the poverty line in Algeria, which represents 35% of the population. Due to economic issues, individuals living in poverty make less than $1.45 a day. Poverty in Algeria is visible through poor living conditions, inadequate healthcare services available to citizens, high unemployment rates and increased rates of migration as well as many beggars. The advantages of smart cities benefit Algeria and can help tackle these problems.

The Concept of Smart Cities

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and more than 90% of urban growth occurs in developing countries. Innovation to improve efficiency and quality of life is important in the development of cities. One of the ways in which innovation occurs in cities is through the establishment of smart cities. A smart city collects data from Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which analyzes the current state of the environment in order to develop sustainable development practices.

Smart cities identify the main needs of the city, create a connected network among citizens and businesses through the city, develop sustainable solutions to problems and develop plans for future city development. Some of the most popular smart cities are located in the United States, but, the development of smart cities has started in developing countries too. The Algiers Smart City project, launched n 2017, was created with the intention to transform the capital city of Algiers into a smart city.

How Smart Cities Benefit Algeria

Quality of life will greatly improve through the development of technology and the optimization of management in the city through the smart city project in Algeria. Management of the city is proposed to be optimized through green project solutions from established startup businesses and the sharing of information between different sectors of the city. The project also includes direct involvement with stakeholders in health and security, which protects citizens.

Efforts within the project in Algeria include working with digital entrepreneurs to help develop the city and to update the ICT infrastructure that is present in the country. Smart city officials established the Experimental Laboratory and the Technology Innovation Hub, which provides local businesses with the tools to test smart city innovations. By creating supportive environments for entrepreneurs and providing business opportunities, jobs in Algeria are able to expand, lifting more people out of poverty.

The Do4Africa Program

The Do4Africa program identifies issues in urban areas and provides approaches to digitalize existing cities like Algiers. The smart city project in Algeria includes implementing different forms of digital technology to completely transform the city of Algiers. Digital technologies are used to manage urban resources such as transport, energy and water. The data gathered from implemented digital technologies focuses on the citizens’ specific needs and city maintenance to offer sustainable solutions to problems caused by urban growth.

Smart cities benefit Algeria in several ways. Conclusively, the transformation of the city of Algiers into a smart city will improve the quality of life, lead to more sustainability and aid in lifting Algerian citizens out of poverty.

– Simone Riggins
Photo: Flickr

smart cities

Major cities around the world are aiming to reinvent themselves as smart cities. Smart cities integrate new technology that has already been successful for individual households into largescale cities. The modern household has an abundance of people and appliances connected through the internet. The tech-world refers to this phenomenon as the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart cities will take advantage of new technology to become the utopias of sci-fi. On a laundry list of issues to tackle, homelessness stands as one of the most imposing. While some cities concede that the leap forward will not solve homelessness, they are optimistic about broaching benefits for the homeless.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is looking to join other European Union cities in offering on-line diaries.  These semi-private journals will allow the homeless to account for their location and day-to-day activities. Most importantly, they will keep track of crucial information, like medical records, potentially saving lives in critical situations. This addresses a symptom of modern life that has only gotten worse over time. Authorities treat individuals without documentation as though they never existed, and therefore, these individuals cannot benefit fully from the modern information age.

People often take being in the system for granted. Medical records, employment history and interpersonal connections are integral pieces of information to share in modern life. The homeless in smart cities will no longer be invisible people.

Birmingham, England

Many different charity organizations address specific issues out of the multitude of problems that the smart cities face. A divide and conquer strategy is necessary but it benefits from a coordinated approach across groups. Change into Action, a partnership of the Birmingham City Council, the Mayor of the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority, unites all of the major charity organizations in Birmingham together.

 Fortunately, citizens now have an easy way to select exactly how charities will use their money to help the homeless in smart cities. This donation strategy targets two key psychological barriers for the average benefactor. The first is that people are overwhelmed when they face a multitude of problems they would like to try to remedy. People are more likely to donate now that they can specifically send £2 for a hot meal to someone in need. The second barrier that is broken is the identifiable victim effect. While potential donors may not know exactly who their money is going to, they are able to conceptualize the individual that will receive their help and are more likely to donate.

Jhansi, India

Energy-efficient housing is another technological advancement that smart cities are integrating into their new smart infrastructure. Wealthy people have been able to experience the monetary benefits of energy-efficient housing for some time now, as they can afford modern homes. Modern, energy-efficient homes use less energy and therefore cost less to live in. Jhansi, India has stated in its smart city initiative report that it aims to provide energy-efficient affordable housing for about 7,000 households. The homeless in smart cities will have the opportunity to afford to pay their utility bills and keep a roof over their heads. 

A variety of cities within different countries are all benefitting from embedding smart technology into their framework. The Chief Information Officer of Adelaide, South Australia Peter Auhl, said that the smart city planning phase is the most critical for success and that cities should purchase technology with a direct goal in mind. Saving the homeless from the neglect they experience is a goal that smart cities can achieve.

– Nicholas Pihralla
Photo: Pixabay