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ICTs to make cities more livable

Sep 19, 2012

Information and communication technology (ICT) can be a useful tool in helping cities to improve their safety, cleanliness, and sustainability, according to Diana Lind, contributing author to Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity.

More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, and countries such as India and China are in need of hundreds of additional cities to accommodate growing populations. People in many cities suffer from inadequate transportation, sub-standard buildings, lack of sanitation, and poor public safety, highlighting the need for sustainable and livable urban planning.

ICT not only contributes to sustainable urban initiatives, but also encourages more environmentally conscious consumer choices. In Singapore, for example, commuters can use mobile phones to avoid hours in traffic by accessing data mapping tools that display traffic and provide alternate travel routes. Commuters can also plan trips on public transportation and be notified of delays or changes in service.

"As cities try to become more sustainable, some municipal governments are finding out just how useful ICT can be," said Michael Renner, Worldwatch Senior Researcher and State of the World 2012 project co-director. "Cities can be run more intelligently with the help of digital infrastructure, such as motion-sensor street lamps and energy chips in transit passes that allow people to enter a subway or bus with the simple swipe of a card."

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