The true impact of location data on cities and city planning is likely to be quieter than most people think, writes Unacast CRO Chris Cunningham.
Location data is talked about most often in the context of retail. However, it can also be used to a great effect in city planning and the development of smart cities. By smart cities, I don’t mean a Jetsons-like world where flying cars are the norm and the entire labor force is comprised of robots; instead, I’m envisioning a place that is safe, convenient, and responsive to the needs of local communities, where transportation is optimized based on people’s needs, and where everything you need is easily accessible.
Just think about it: If you can measure the flow of foot traffic throughout a city, understanding which areas see the most people and at which times, you can then optimize your transportation schedules to ease the flow of people during rush hour. In addition, you could use that information to determine the best locations for new transportation hubs, especially in places that are underserved by existing transport networks.
City planning, too, would be greatly improved by the use of location data. Cities could use foot traffic analysis to determine the placement of new retail or residential zones. Governments could decide to limit or encourage businesses in certain areas depending on the number of people already living or working there, thus ensuring that resources are going to the places that they’re needed the most.
The true impact of location data on cities and city planning is likely to be quieter than most people think. Far from being a total reinvention of city life, a true smart city will retain the elements of urban living that we all know and love (the convenience, the utilities, the bodegas) while making improvements to infrastructure and public spaces that will enhance the overall quality of life.