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Smart technology could make cities safer and cleaner, research says

Cutting-edge tools would help lower crime rates, commuter times and fatalities.

Cities could save hundreds of lives and lower carbon emissions by using smart technologies such as real-time crime mapping and intelligent traffic signalling, researchers said on Thursday.

Cutting-edge tools would help lower crime rates, commuter times and fatalities, said the report by the McKinsey Global Institute analysing the use of smart technologies in 50 cities worldwide.

Advanced, smart solutions can utilise data and digital technology to monitor events in real time, watch patterns change and respond quickly with lower costs, the report said.

Real-time crime mapping could cut burglaries and assaults by up to 40% as police are able to respond more quickly, the research found.

Cities in Latin America, which have the highest homicide rates in the world, could use such hi-tech tools as gunshot detection and predictive policing that can anticipate crime, Jaana Remes, a McKinsey partner, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Cities have only scratched the surface of all the creative ways they can use data and digital technologies to reinvent the way they deliver services,” she said.

Rio de Janeiro has been experimenting with such security applications.

Moscow has installed thousands of cameras and intelligent traffic signals that can shave critical seconds off an ambulance journey to an emergency scene, accelerating response times up to 35%, she said.

Smart technologies in health care include digital telemedicine that can host consultations by videoconference, a solution for cities with doctor shortages, the report said.

Remote patient monitoring devices that take vital readings and send them to doctors for assessment can help decrease hospitalisations, it said.

Singapore and Tokyo are expanding use of such devices in response to their ageing populations, Remes said.

Air pollution, estimated to cause of more than three million premature deaths each year, could drop almost 15% if cities used dynamic electricity pricing that charges higher consumer prices when demand peaks, according to the report.

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