So-called smart cities use technology to increase the efficiency of public services, reduce resource consumption and improve the quality of life of residents. Innovative, technology-enabled urban planning is the wave of the future and will also shape the experience of travellers visiting these hot spots. The travel experts at KAYAK.sg have identified five of the smartest cities outside of Singapore.
Cities are increasingly seeking to encourage walking and cycling since studies have shown a link between urban planning and rising obesity rates. This is especially apparent in Songdo, a purpose-built city outside of Seoul that was branded “the first smart city in the world”.* The city is highly walkable, centres on a large public park and incorporates a comprehensive network of environmentally-friendly bicycle lanes. In addition, the city offers free high-speed Wi-Fi on the subway, charging stations for electric cars and an invisible, completely underground waste management system.
Auckland, New Zealand: Easy living in the City of Sails
The harbourfront city of Auckland expects its population to swell to 2.2 million residents by 2020 and the city’s public transport authority has launched a multitude of projects to keep up with the pace of growth. For example, KiwiRail is working with IBM to improve the speed, safety and reliability of rail services in the city. By employing information technology, KiwiRail will be able to predict and prevent public transport break-downs before they happen. The Hello Auckland smartphone app, a free city guide that lists points of interest, restaurants, shopping and events, enables visitors to navigate this pretty city with ease.
Zhenjiang, China: A smart city with a long history
A 90-minute bullet train ride whisks visitors from Shanghai to Zhenjiang, a high-tech city on the Yangtze River. Once in the city, public transport is a breeze. A myriad of bus routes are managed centrally through a smart transport network that improves efficiency and reduces fuel use and emissions. Some buses even offer superfast free 4G wireless Internet for riders. The first port of call for visitors should be the app store: bus arrival times, open parking spaces and public bicycle pick-up points can all be checked from a smartphone.
Tokyo, Japan: A tech-obsessed city where robots come to life
Tokyo is stepping up its smart city game as it prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. This very clean but densely populated metropolis was named the most livable city in the world in 2015** and routinely tops the smart city rankings.*** Of all the region’s futuristic cities, Tokyo might be the most fascinated with innovation and electronics, which can be experienced live at the famous Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, where larger-than-life automatons backed by giant LCD screens flash, move and interact with the audience. Feeling lost? The tourism board’s free Tokyo Handy Guide App offers maps that can be used offline and helps visitors to easily explore the city on foot.
New Taipei City, Taiwan: Building bridges to the future
Another of the region’s top smart destinations is New Taipei City, which is known in particular for its innovative public works and safety programs. One of the city’s most futuristic features is the impressive New Taipei Bridge, the longest symmetric stayed bridge in Asia. It spans the Tamsui River and connects the glass and steel high-rise Sanchong District with Wanhua District in Taipei City. Another engineering marvel, the Danjiang Bridge, will be the longest of its kind in the world when it opens in 2020. The Bridge’s asymmetrical design was inspired by the movements of performers from Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theater and reflects the region’s unique scenery.
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