Xolile Ndlangana, Marketing Director, Boxfusion
South Africa has a range of historical challenges to overcome, not least of which is the spatial and town planning implemented by the apartheid government. While increased urbanisation and low-cost housing has provided a degree of access to historically disadvantaged groups, the creation of new smart cities can help government advance this agenda with greater speed, granting access to financial hubs to those in outlying regions.
While the notion of a smart city in South Africa may seem futuristic and far-off, plans are already being put in place to create the city of tomorrow. In fact, in his 2020 SONA address, President Ramaphosa announced the development of South Africa’s first smart city in Lanseria.
There are a number of critical elements that make a city smart, not least of these is access to 5G networks, internet of things (IOT) and government apps that connect citizens to smart services. Having the right infrastructure in place allows for the creation of a city with intelligent public transport, waste disposal, smart parking, outdoor lighting and next-gen emergency services.
According to techrepublic.com, smart city tech spending across the globe is set to grow to $135 billion within the next year. If South Africa wants to be competitive in this space, now is the time to develop the proposed Lanseria project.
What are the benefits of a smart city?
Every day technology progresses at an exponential rate, and yet many municipalities are slow to incorporate even basic tools, such as city-wide apps, into their administrative processes.
Smart cities are appealing for one primary reason, with a myriad of spin-off benefits. The primary reason is that technology increases efficiency, in any form it takes. Whether that is alerting local garbage services that a bin is full and ready for collection or allowing drivers to find an open parking spot in the city without spending minutes driving around in circles.
Not only do smart cities make life more efficient for those who live and work in them, but there is also the potential for two-way communication to be facilitated between citizens and municipal workers or officials. Connectivity and IOT has the benefit of facilitating this two-way communication.
Prevention is better than cure
Using data and analytics gathered from two-way communication with citizens, officials can predict issues before they arise, and designate resources in such a way to increase and improve sustainable water and electricity usage. This is one of the reasons that President Ramaphosa noted the Lanseria Smart City will be setting the benchmark for green infrastructure around the country.
Indeed, infrastructure, and particularly digital infrastructure, is key to the success of such a project. It was noted that the governments of Gauteng and the North West are working together to create this reality, along with development finance institutions and the Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency. It is key partnerships like this that will truly allow for the success of such an endeavour.
Guaranteeing that Lanseria is 5G ready, along with the underlying infrastructure that entails, will unlock the proverbial gates to this city, ensuring that the project is both viable and repeatable across other regions in South Africa.
While we’re excited to see what this smart city will look like, we’re already partnering with municipalities to bring their citizens into the Digital Age through our range of citizen-facing apps, including the My SAPS app, the Mpilo Healthcare app and Smartgov for Citizens, now available in over 9 municipalities around the country.