Technology has changed every aspect of city living, from basic infrastructure and citizen engagement to asset management and public safety.

And as the trend for urban expansion continues to grow, smart cities are focusing on emerging technologies such as IoT, smart sensors and augmented reality to maintain sustainable living environments for residents.

Augmented reality technology, in particular, is being geared towards transforming urbanised landscapes into people-oriented spaces.

And with 5G communications expected to become widespread over the next few years, AR is set to power the next major paradigm transformation in the smart city game. Augmented reality (also known as mixed reality) comes with endless possibilities for innovating the broad public sector, and its potential for brilliance is only confined to the ingenuity of governments and city officials.

Here’s how smart cities of the future are being shaped by AR today, allowing citizens to interact with their daily surroundings in completely different ways.

Navigation and urban mobility

This is a common AR application that can massively benefit smart cities. Large metropolitan areas with high population densities often make it difficult for traffic to flow smoothly, leading to inefficient use of city resources and time wasted.

Many people will navigate using directions from their smartphones, but this can lead to higher accident rates as they become less aware of their surroundings.

Combining augmented reality with navigation can provide a drastically improved driving experience, creating safer roads and manageable traffic.

An augmented future is also expected to provide drivers with real-time information such as traffic updates, route changes and the health of their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the ability to augment physical maps will allow public transport users to visually or audibly access any transit network information they require.

City maintenance and asset management

Augmented reality, combined with artificial intelligence and other smart city technologies will act as the interface from which all municipal workforces maintain the city’s resources.

This means that every last city asset, from public roads, fire hydrants and streetlights to cell towers and water wells will be monitored accurately for maximum efficiency.

Smart cities envision a future where augmented reality will power equipment such as hard-hat mounted devices, smart goggles and other types of hands-free machinery that will allow city workers to perform tasks easily and quickly.

These innovative devices will allow the city’s specialists and supervisors to guide field workers via remote AR connections and provide them with real-time advice and technical assistance.

E-governance

A smart city that’s fully integrated with AR technology would allow citizens to interact with government, business and other documents through their own AR devices.

AR powered equipment such as smart glasses, smartphones and even office display boards will allow users to access e-services and work with a complete selection of accessibility aids such as translations, illustrations and sounds.

A future powered by augmented reality also means that citizens and businesses can actually see how work projects such as buildings, energy facilities, transit lines and parks will look once they are completed – and even interact with such augmented projects.