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Smart cities in focus at New York Climate Week Industry and Technology Forum

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Traffic is bad. New York City traffic is worse. New York City traffic during UN Week, hours before the Pope is set to arrive…well I believe the term is “fughetaboutit”. Yes, the commute to the First Annual New York Climate Week Industry and Technology Forum was challenging and somewhat ironic. Ironic because solving problems with traffic was one of the solutions presented during a session titled: How ICT Can Advance Multi-Sector Solutions to Decouple Economic Growth From Carbon Emissions.

Luis Neves, Chairman of Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), focused his opening remarks on how different our cities will be in the very near future and how the ICT industry will drive major advancements by providing connectivity and access to information. Neves also emphasized the importance of cross-sector partnerships for reaching our objectives to curtail carbon emissions while continuing economic growth.

The remark on partnerships segued nicely into a roundtable discussion including AT&T, Verizon, and BT Americas, among others. It was very interesting to hear leaders from these companies discuss how they viewed the next steps ICT can (and will) take to promote GDP growth while breaking the greenhouse gas connection. Smart cities were clearly on everyone’s agenda as was the Internet of Things.

In my mind, smart cities are first and foremost sustainable cities. This means that city resources are used efficiently, and when this happens city economies can grow by reinvesting these efficiencies into areas of comparative need. When resources such as energy, water, and others are used efficiently, we are able to all coexist within our planetary boundaries.

Perhaps soon enough, when I am back in New York City for a future UN Week, traffic lights will be interconnected and communicating with one other to avoid jams and excess emissions. In the unlikely event of an accident, emergency help will be summoned immediately by smart sensors to the location where help is needed. All drivers will have real-time information on traffic patterns to optimize commutes.

Well, that is if there are any drivers, we may all just be passengers in self-driving vehicles… soon enough.

Written by Lev Noryan

Lev Noryan is the Program Manager for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (S&CR) for Ericsson Region North America. He is part of Ericsson’s global S&CR team focused on Technology for Good projects, energy efficiency initiatives, and responsible business practices with internal and external stakeholders in the United States and Canada.

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