Tampere Smart City Expo & Conference

Amazon Web Services | AWS for Sustainable Cities and Climate Action

News  01.06.2023

Cities are expected to be home to two-thirds of the world’s population by 2050, according to the Population Division report from the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. As the population expands so does the imperative to make sure that urban infrastructure and services can accommodate growth. Cities are adopting innovative technology to meet rising demands on public services and infrastructure, as well as to address urban challenges related to the environment, national security, and public health, among others. Information and communications technology advances of the 1990s gave rise to the smart city, or a city that continuously enhances quality of life for its residents, providing efficient and effective services, using technology and data.

Today’s technology—including cloud services and the Internet of Things (IoT)—promises to unleash a new wave of innovation and transform cities into economic hubs that serve as safe and healthy homes for their residents. It offers solutions not just to economic and logistical challenges but also to social and environmental issues plaguing cities around the world, including public health crises and natural disasters. Data, and the technology used to collect it and turn it into insights, are a means to an end: help cities meet their sustainability targets, fight climate change and better serve residents.

Road to Zero Waste

One of the areas where technology can help cities be more sustainable is by aiming for a Zero Waste objective. Our natural resources are in short supply, and the current recycling and waste management method in most cities is not sustainable and generates too much carbon emissions. In the US, the City of Santa Fe has teamed up with AWS partner Rubicon to create a dynamic cloud-based solution to transform waste management. The city reduced the number of missed pickups, eliminating paper route sheets and manual tracking of customer issues, optimized collection routes, and saved taxpayer dollars through actions such as reducing fuel consumption, wear and tear on vehicles, and unnecessary overtime.

Digital Twin for sustainable urban planning

The City of Turin, in collaboration with AWS and partner Latitudo40, has created an application that provides indicators of urban sustainability through the processing of large amounts of data from satellite images and the comparison with other surveys. The possibility of creating a digital twin of the city to identify the most suitable areas for the application of Nature Based Solutions and monitor their effectiveness is an example of how technologies can make an enormous contribution to cities in order to be increasingly sustainable and resilient to the future.

Climate disaster prediction and weather monitoring

In July 2022, UK temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time ever. During this heatwave, the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) released their first ever Red Warning for heat, issued in the event that there is a high chance that citizens will feel dangerous impacts of weather. As observed by the Met Office, the signs of climate change are increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events like heat, drought, and flooding. Each extreme weather event creates unique and widespread socioeconomic effects that impact communities differently, depending on a wide array of factors, that can be challenging to plan for. However, new advances in technology such as the AWS SimSpace Weaver, can help governments, organizations, and businesses simulate, predict, plan for, and prevent the worst in different weather events.

Jeremy Tandy, principal fellow at the Met Office, shared, “Better simulation can help to understand variability in hazards from place to place. With a more local understanding, society can put in place targeted mitigations—like changing the crop type to be more drought resistant, or building bridges so they’re more resilient by being above extreme flood height.” The Met Office is working to bring critical climate change forecasting information to governments, organizations, and businesses so they can better prepare for and prevent climate-related disasters. The Met Office also uses AWS to deliver valuable weather data to three million people through its mobile weather app.