Can Smart Cities Solve Homelessness?
Smart cities may be able to quantify and objectively analyze homelessness like never before.
Smart cities are often visualized as something out of the Jetsons or the old German silent film Metropolis. With hovercars zooming around and tall skyscrapers dotting the horizon. However, smart cities will also be able to gather more data about their citizens than ever before. In this regard, they may be able to gather enough data to solve a huge problem plaguing modern cities; homelessness.
The IEEE Research Paper
In an IEEE research paper titled Smart City Response to Homelessness, the researchers propose several solutions to homelessness. The crux of their proposal hinges on the adoption of greater technology to gather more data. Their proposal is that through more data, policymakers and governments can determine more objective solutions.
For instance, through a central database of homeless persons and available affordable housing, the two can be matched. This can be done per their needs and requirements. Policymakers can also use this data to determine what kind of housing is needed by the vast majority of homeless people.
The paper’s proposals say that taking data provided consensually from various people’s phones can help with this. If this data is fed into a central database, better decisions can be taken to alleviate homelessness. For smart cities homelessness is like any other problem, quantifiable, and solvable.
Hope Springs in San Francisco
The cities of Seattle and San Francisco have both adopted a system to help homeless people. One is a phone line “311” in both cities. This number allows residents to report tent cities and encampments where homeless people reside. This has been a direct response to homelessness surging 17% from 2017 to 2019 in San Francisco.
Seattle also has an app called “Find It, Fix It” which is basically the 311-phone line turned into an app. Users can submit problems in the city via category. In these categories, there is a “homelessness” category. Users can upload pictures and tag locations if they choose to. This helps local officials find and help homeless people quicker.
With a lot of progress still to be made for homelessness, smart cities can lead the way to alleviate it.
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