Making a city smarter means using new technology and better design to help make things run more efficiently and to provide the most benefit to its residents. As a model, Georgia Tech has focused on increasing the efficiency of public transportation, smarter energy use, and better engineering, among other areas.
While smart city initiatives are important for people of all ages, older adults in particular can benefit from them. Design features specifically targeted to older adults aim to keep them active and able to access resources outside of their homes. The most obvious advance in this area would be to design environments with fewer barriers to older adults and anyone with mobility issues. However, redesigning environments takes time and is not always practical. Apps such as ALIGN (Application for Locational Intelligence and Geospatial Navigation) allow individuals to map routes to a destination depending on accessibility issues such as uneven sidewalks, uphill routes, etc. This can reduce individuals’ uncertainty about navigating their city, allowing them to avoid being isolated in their homes.
Georgia Tech researchers are also working on how to make wellness information more intelligent. By monitoring how various groups of people use wellness resources within the city, the researchers hope to be able to offer wellness opportunity recommendations tailored to an individual – much like how smartphone apps can recommend places to eat or shop, they may also be able to do the same for wellness opportunities around the city. With this technology, older adults will not only have fewer barriers to navigating their city, they will also have better knowledge of the wellness opportunities available to them.
Improvements such as these will make cities better places to live, and will allow older adults to continue to be a part of the communities in which they live. New technologies have changed many aspects of our lives and can provide many options to make cities smarter.