A smart city must consider food management as an essential pillar for pursuing its goal to be smart. In fact, even if there are many different definitions of the smart city idea, each explanation agrees stating that technology must be at the service of the city for a better citizens’ way of life, improving the management of waste, water and mobility, saving energy reserves, aiming at health care, enhancing economy and social life. Food is related with each of the above enhancing aspects, so smart technology should be used in every phase of food cycle: production, processing, and delivering.
First of all, a smart vegetable growing and animal breeding can save water and energy reserve, making sustainable the environmental impact. For example we can avoid pollution and preserve environment through recycling irrigation system and exploiting alternative energy resources, while advanced urban agriculture systems integrated onto rooftops and facades of building can efficiently deliver high quality produce and help to solve food security problem.
Furthermore, a smart traceability guarantees healthier food, reducing the danger caused by the introduction of processing chemicals and shortening the number of step for transformation. Thanks to an effective traceability we can have a better quality of food and can control freshness, tracking consumables to check quality and perishability during all the processing and distribution steps. In addition, thanks to traceability the market can offer a bigger amount and variety of organic food, that can be cheaper and more available.
Moreover, a smart delivery of food diminishes traffic, saves energy and produces less waste. Smart delivery, in fact, aims at “km 0 food”: local, in-season edibles do not travel long distance for reach us, avoiding the increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to a high number of kilometers done by food. Besides, organic and other forms of low-input farming that use minimal or no pesticides and fertilizers – which are energy intensive in their manufacture – consume up to 40% less energy, and support higher levels of wildlife on farms. Smart delivery means also to reduce the food waste problem through an effective distribution, for lowering the costs associated with assortment management from the standpoint of sustainable local growth and solidarity. As it is shown by the Last Minute Market experience, an innovative service born in Bologna (Italy) as an academic spin-off, getting the best out of waste rather than merely eliminating it makes the transformation of waste into resources possible, recovering excess food in favor of agencies and associations that assist needy people.
In conclusion, all the smart city services are related with food and food management, at every step of the food production chain, from growing the plants we harvest or raising the animals, through the processing, to the distribution. Thus, a smart city must consider food-relating services as a wide opportunity for enhancing the citizens’ quality of life, exploiting technology for improving its smartness.