The Rise of the Smart City

Officials are tapping all kinds of data to make their cities safer, healthier and more efficient, in what may be just the start of a sweeping change in how cities are run

As city officials across the country begin to draw on data about income, traffic, fires, illnesses and more, big changes are already under way in leading smart cities.Tatiana Plakhova for The Wall Street Journal by Michael Totty
April 16, 2017 10:12 p.m. ET

As city officials across the country begin to draw on data about income, traffic, fires, illnesses and more, big changes are already under way in leading smart cities. ILLUSTRATION: TATIANA PLAKHOVA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Cities have a way to go before they can be considered geniuses. But they’re getting smart pretty fast.

In just the past few years, mayors and other officials in cities across the country have begun to draw on the reams of data at their disposal—about income, burglaries, traffic, fires, illnesses, parking citations and more—to tackle many of the problems of urban life. Whether it’s making it easier for residents to find parking places, or guiding health inspectors to high-risk restaurants or giving smoke alarms to the households that are most likely to suffer fatal fires, big-data technologies are beginning to transform the way cities work.

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