Steven Adler, CEO Ocean Data Alliance
It’s well known that the majority of people now live in towns and cities. It’s more surprising to learn just how many of the world’s population live on or near the coast. Forty percent of people are within 100km of a shoreline. Not coincidentally, most major problems in our oceans are found within 100km of the coast. The world’s largest population centres are responsible for much of the farm runoff, sewage, plastic and other pollutants that endanger marine and land ecosystems in coastal zones. And it is along coasts that most overfishing occurs.
Tackling these problems requires making the ocean relevant to people in their everyday lives. We must work harder at the local level to clean up coastal environments and get more people choosing to venture into the seas and beneath the waves. A solution may lie in integrating urban coastal zones into Smart Cities programmes. Around the world, Smart Cities are analysing and adapting urban environments to improve the quality of life for their residents. High-speed and low-cost sensors, open data and data science are transforming public transportation, making rubbish collection better, improving air quality and helping urban planners redesign streets and public spaces.
These tech-driven solutions are transforming cities into safer, healthier and more productive environments. Why not apply the same processes to urban coastal zones, which have been left out of Smart City programmes until now? A Smart Ocean City would integrate into the seas the same observation and data-collection technology that’s already being applied in cities, spurring innovations in ocean remediation and restoration, and transforming seafronts from blighted industrial zones into clean and healthy public spaces full of amenities.
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