With the world's population estimated to reach 10 billion people by 2050, and three quarters of this population living in cities, smart city planning is increasingly being seen as an essential component in providing a comprehensive solution to tackling adverse health outcomes. In the last century, city planning helped curb outbreaks of infectious disease through improved sanitation, housing and efforts to separate housing and industrial areas.
Researchers say that today’s city planners have a similar opportunity to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCD) and road trauma, as well as promote health and well-being by designing smart cities.
Researchers used computer models to study several factors that could affect a city's quality of life, including distance people must travel to shop, the availability and safety of bike paths, parking costs and access to public transportation. Specifically, the team tried to estimate how public health would be affected if big cities were 30 percent more compact. The researchers considered the effects of reducing car use by 10 percent and reducing the distance to public transportation by 30 percent. They said steps such as constructing bike lanes and charging people more to park cars not only improve air quality, but also make people more active.