Cities are the lifeblood of our planet, and are the dominant force in today’s energy usage and resource management efforts. Given that today’s cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy, according to a United Nations study, and more than 50 percent of the world’s population live in cities, it’s no wonder that urban planners are hungry for technological upgrades to help maximize resources and improve daily life.To address the escalating demands of existing and future residents, cities are looking for ways to introduce more technology to become “smarter” about the use of limited resources and more flexible in responding to residents’ needs. That’s why we hear the term “Smart Cities” so much today. But what exactly is a “Smart City?”In my view, resource management—for energy, water and transportation—using technology will be the backbone of smart city innovation. Optimizing electric, gas and water distribution and management systems can significantly increase efficiency and reliability, minimize losses, and enhance water conservation. In addition, transportation optimization will reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and overall stress levels.Interesting nugget for detecting gas leaks in cities: See Google gas leak detection in cities.It’s already happening and technology is making these improvements possible.Here are a few examples of how some leading cities are looking to the future and laying the foundation to become “Smart Cities” for the 21st century and beyond:LondonUsing the City of London as a test bed, Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities researchers are exploring technologies to make cities more aware and adaptive by harnessing real-time user and city infrastructure data.The institute is using this data to develop models for more sustainable behavior, including community energy management and water conservation. In addition, the institute is studying how fixed and mobile sensors across the city can be used in the collection of data on the weather, emissions and traffic flows, for use by city planners in the development of more sustainable cities in the future.San JoseThe city of San José and Intel are collaborating on a public-private partnership to further the city’s “Green Vision” goals. The project, known as Smart Cities USA, is expected to create environmental sustainability and enhance the quality of life for residents.The pilot program in San José is Intel’s first smart city implementation in the United States. The city is installing a network of sensors to create a “sustainability lens” that uses Intel technology to measure characteristics such as particulates in the air, noise pollution and traffic flow. Such measurement data will produce meaningful insights that will lead to improvements in air quality, noise, transportation efficiency, environmental sustainability, health, and energy efficiency.DublinIntel and the Dublin City Council are working together to implement a city wide Internet of Things (IoT) demonstration platform. This collaboration is accelerating a shared vision for high-tech, sustainable cities that utilize low power and small core technology along with ubiquitous sensor capability that seamlessly connect citizens to these capacities and to each other.The demonstration platform incorporates multiple distributed IoT gateways based on Intel Quark processors with various sensor devices to detect and make environmental data available to the city administration as well as to citizens.The bottom line is that cities are taking action to improve their utility infrastructures for the betterment of their societies. This will only lead to greater technological adoption and more data to fuel innovation.What’s your definition of a “Smart City” and where do you see progress taking place?