ApplicationAugmented Reality

How Smart Cities Can Use Augmented Reality Technology

Augmented reality technology can enhance the quality of life in smart cities by improving government services and citizen welfare.


In the quest to improve the quality of life in urban spaces, local city councils, urban planners, and developers are exploring cutting-edge digital solutions that can potentially power smart cities. Augmented reality technology, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence are some of the most promising solutions out there.

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Smart cities leverage a network of interconnected objects and machines, which use big data and digital solutions to enhance the quality of government services and citizen welfare.

Now, the question is: where does AR fit into all of this?

AR works by overlaying digital information in real-world environments. Unlike virtual reality, it doesn’t require bulky equipment like headsets. All you need is a smartphone, which most people already have.

AR can provide constant feedback within smart cities, allowing everyone to make informed decisions in their day-to-day life. In short, it can make urban spaces more people-centered. It can improve urban mobility, public safety, public health, tourism, and asset management.

What Is the Role of Augmented Reality Technology in Smart Cities?

Access to real-time data can improve mobility and public safety in smart cities. Urban areas are often difficult to navigate—even for their residents. Pairing AR with navigation apps can change that. Just by pointing your smartphone’s camera around you, you’ll have directions to any destination.

If AR head-up displays like Audi’s Q4 E-Tron become more enhanced and widespread in the future, motorists can navigate the streets efficiently using AR. The car can overlay AR graphics on the windshield, showing navigation information that can assist the driver. Imagine its impact on emergency services. Everyone from firefighters and police to disaster first responders will be able to find the best routes to reach emergencies faster.

Having easy access to data can be great for public health and wellness too. For instance, AR can help residents find amenities such as parks, recreational facilities, and outdoor activities with ease.

AR can also provide information about the objects around you. Whether it’s buildings, landmarks, or public transportation, you can get the information you need without having to search it on Google. Say, you want to know a restaurant’s business hours. An AR app can potentially supply and overlay that information on your smartphone.

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In the future, AR might be able to provide real-time translations of street names and signs to make cities more tourist-friendly.

Furthermore, AR makes asset and resource management easier for the authorities. Using AR devices, such as head-up displays, smart goggles, and other hands-free devices, it would be easier for municipal workers to manage and monitor city assets. They can gather data safely and efficiently.

Why Do We Need Augmented Reality Technology in Smart Cities?

A growing number of people flock to urban spaces every year in search of better job prospects and education. Hence, there is an ever-increasing need to improve urban mobility, public health, safety, and asset management.

As mentioned, new smart technologies can help improve citizen welfare and increase efficiencies in all aspects of urban living. They also make it easier for local government authorities to oversee the resources in their growing urban communities.

Just to be clear: AR isn’t the sole solution to many problems in urban environments. However, when it is used alongside other cutting-edge solutions, like IoT and artificial intelligence, it can potentially make a significant difference in the lives of urban dwellers.

Building Smart Cities With Augmented Reality Technology

Although augmented reality technology is very promising, it comes with its fair share of technical challenges. Specifically, AR requires massive quantities of data—and fast. Synchronizing the real-world environment with the movement of the user requires heavy graphical rendering processes. Thus, it needs stringent network requirements, such as low latency, high bandwidth, and high reliability.

This is why 5G is highly anticipated. Many believe that it can unlock the full potential of immersive technologies. As 5G rolls out around the world, these AR solutions are closer to becoming a reality.

The United States, South Korea, and China are a few of the countries at the forefront of 5G deployments. Since the COVID-19 crisis has caused delays in 5G deployments, all we can do is wait for further developments.


Gergana Mileva
the authorGergana Mileva
Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance journalist and writer, focusing on technology, finance, and marketing. If you have a story suggestion for Geri, you may contact her here.