Smart Landscape: A Necessary Step Towards Sustainability

In an increasingly connected world, the concept of landscape has evolved beyond its traditional definition. Now, the environment is being transformed into a dynamic space that increasingly incorporates technology to improve the experience of walking through it, people’s quality of life and promote environmental sustainability. This emerging concept is known as the “smart landscape” and is marking a significant milestone in both urban and rural design in the 21st century. 

Defining the Smart landscape is not easy, as the concept is not limited only to the integration of advanced technology in its design, but encompasses a wide range of aspects ranging from green and urban infrastructure to the efficient management of the different resources that make it up. It is basically based on the idea of creating environments that are both sensitive and responsive to the needs of communities and the environment.


Parque urbano / Urban park Fotografía / Photography: Evening_tao en Freepik

The use of technology as a tool plays a crucial role in the realization of the smart landscape. Data on Internet networks, for example, provides real-time data on resource use, weather, traffic, and air quality in a given location. This data is used to optimize urban planning, improve energy efficiency, and reduce the environmental impact of a landscape project. 

Another of the fundamental pillars of the smart landscape is sustainability. This involves implementing practices that minimize resource consumption and reduce the carbon footprint. From LEED-certified buildings (Sustainable Building Certification System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council), to electric public transportation systems, Smart cities are taking steps to ensure a future where nature is more inclusive without wasting energy resources and whose livability contributes to improving people’s health and quality of life. 

Utilizando un scooter eléctrico / Using an electric scooter
Fotografía / Photography: Freepik

Smart landscapes (parks or urban spaces that harmoniously and balancedly unite nature with advanced technology) are revolutionizing the way we live, as it is now essential to consider factors such as infrastructure, geothermal energy, air quality, water management and the use of renewable energies in their planning and remodeling.

Smart landscapes are revolutionizing the way we live, as it is now essential to consider factors such as infrastructure, geothermal energy, air quality, water management and the use of renewable energies in their planning and remodeling.

Cities such as Singapore, Barcelona and Reykjavik, in Iceland are now recognized for their pioneering approach to sustainable urban planning, as they have implemented a number of initiatives ranging from rainwater to vertical farming in skyscrapers, thus reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and decreasing carbon emissions. They have also opted for digitalisation and the creation of mobile applications to facilitate public transport, and the use of electric or magnetic passenger vehicles, with a view to a smarter and more sustainable future.

Vista aérea de Barcelona / Aerial view of Barcelona
Fotografía / Photography: Nick Wehrli

Some of the most commonly used tools today in smart natural landscapes are: 

Smart Irrigation System: Optimizes water use by tracking soil moisture levels and weather conditions also allows plants to receive the right amount of water preventing the spread of water-borne diseases and pests. 

Weather stations: Knowing the weather conditions in real time allows you to protect your plants from adverse factors. 

Soil moisture sensors: These sensors detect the moisture content of the soil and allow you to calculate the water required in each specific location, reducing its consumption and preventing the spread of pests and diseases. 

Plant & Greenery Sensors: These products monitor plant health and provide information on light levels, temperature, and nutrient levels, allowing lighting, temperature levels, feeding schedules, and the best growing conditions to be adjusted.

Monitoreo de reserva natural mediante tecnología / Monitoring of natural reserve using technology
Fotografía / Photography: Freepik

When it comes to the cityscape, the anatomy of a smart city is made up of the following three elements: 

Sensors: They monitor activity and changes through numerous records captured by electronic systems converted into data. A basic example is presence sensors to automate the switching on of lights in buildings or parking lots. 

Wireless Networks: They allow communication between things through short- and long-range signals (including the cellular network). Depending on the frequency of the signal and the distance between devices and sensors, this is how the most suitable type of network is chosen. 

Users: These are the people or machines that use the data from sensors to process information and make decisions. 

Controlando la iluminación mediante el celular / Controlling lighting through a cellphone Fotografía / Photography: Freepik

For large cities, becoming smart is more of a necessity than a luxury due to the increase in inhabitants who demand fast, efficient services and quality infrastructure. The solutions that technology offers to a smart city is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of services in sectors such as: 

Lighting: This is the largest energy expenditure of governments. For this reason, managing it properly is a basic aspect for improving safety and increasing energy savings. 

Residential & Buildings: Heating, electrical energy consumption, lighting, ventilation, fire detection and extinguishing, among other things; are resources and services that need to be optimized.

Smart grids: Used for monitoring and managing energy consumption, leak detection, and water potability monitoring, among others, are just some of the services that smart cities must necessarily integrate. 

Transportation: The implementation of fast lanes, bicycle and bicycle lanes stations and their proper management, carried out through the use of platforms for their monitoring and safety, allow the identification of fast routes, integration of smart parking, monitoring of fuel consumption, promoting a healthy life and less traffic. 

Environment: A green city goes hand in hand with the smart city concept, solutions such as rooftop or vertical gardens provide advantages such as noise insulation, oxygen and CO2 absorption. New automated irrigation systems can optimize these processes by integrating sensors. Air quality pollution monitoring is one example, as well as waste management, which are part of the solutions in smart cities.

Despite its many benefits, the development of smart landscapes also poses ethical challenges and dilemmas. Bulk data collection, for example, raises privacy and cybersecurity concerns. In addition, there is a risk that technology could exacerbate social inequalities if not implemented equitably.