With over 55% of the population living in cities, it shouldn’t be a shocker that cities are driving innovation, particularly with digital transformation and technology adoption. Over the last few years, we’ve seen some incredible innovations, be it GIS and data visualization, outbreak management systems, cloud-based software for transportation agencies – the list goes on and on. One unifying factor remains – technology can help us improve our cities. This trend is catching on – across the globe, smart city technology spending reached $80 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow to $135 billion by 2021.
What is a Smart City?
A variety of definitions exist for smart cities, but generally, smart cities leverage IoT sensors and devices to connect every layer of a city to increase efficiency, transparency, automation, and data collection. Data is a key element for smart cities, as it is used to continuously optimize processes, identify menial and repetitive tasks for automation, improve communication between citizens and the government, as well as plan for growth, maintenance and infrastructure development.
Why Build Smart Cities?
Smart Cities will transform the way we live by daring innovators to think bigger, to design for human benefit, and to make how we live more efficient – from both a technology perspective and an environmental perspective. There are numerous benefits of smart cities, so we’ve tried to capture the most impactful. Below are 7 ways Smart Cities can change our lives, and are an investment worth looking into:
Data-driven decision making – one of the most important benefits of a smart city is using data to continuously improve how the city operates, find areas for automation and optimization, and to identify areas of concern. With big-data, as long as there’s a proper data-analytics strategy in place, cities have access to information that otherwise would be unreachable. Government officials can use this information to glean meaningful, actionable insights, monitor service levels in real-time, and forecast accurately for future plans.
Improved infrastructure – Smart technology, like sensors, helps cities identify areas of concern within existing infrastructure, so that updates can be made proactively. Predictive analytics provide cities the means to fix issues like structural fractures and tilts before infrastructure failures happen- saving money and lives!
Reduced environmental footprint – one of the key things smart cities can help provide is efficiency, which from an environmental standpoint is absolutely critical. Energy efficient buildings, air quality sensors, IoT-enabled water management systems, smart mobility management tools, and smart energy grids are just a few of the ways we can use smart cities to reduce the environmental impact that city living inflicts on the planet.
Efficient public utilities – By adopting technologies that make it possible to monitor usage cities can effectively conserve and reduce water and electricity waste.
Quality of life – Infusing efficiency and transparency into city operations has the potential to change the way that citizens are able to live- for the better. Smart city initiatives should be centered around betting the experience of both residents and visitors, such that technology acts as the catalyst not just for optimizing operations but optimizing daily life as well. For example, efficient transport services, smart parking apps, digitized government services, and even simple things like public WiFi and smart street furniture with charging points often have a direct positive impact on citizens’ lives because they are created specifically with people’s needs and experiences in mind.
Enhanced citizen engagement –Smart cities make it easier for citizens to access meaningful information, communicate with government agencies, and settle government inquiries efficiently. Whether it’s through self-service portals, mobile applications, interactive maps, live streaming meetings, or other digital services, smart cities enable citizens to become more involved simply by using the technology available to them, and by doing so, they’re able to promote a citizen-government relationship.
Revenue generation and cost savings – ABI Research in 2017 predicted that smart city technologies could save enterprises, governments and citizens worldwide over $5 trillion annually by 2022. Automation, AI, big data, and automation are drastically improving the efficiency of public and commercial operations, ultimately leading to huge cost savings. Compounded with these savings are the opportunities for economic development; in fact, 43% of business leaders are looking to move offices to cities with a compelling smart city vision. Smart cities attract more businesses because smarter infrastructure lowers their operating costs, improving their profit margins and opportunities for growth. Plus, private sectors are investing millions of dollars into smart city development by partnering with government officials to open up new opportunities for growth and expansion.
Smart Cities have the potential to enhance lives and reduce our environmental impact – a win-win for everyone. Missing out on being a part of this change would be a shame, certainly from a financial perspective. We work with companies all over the world to power their smart city initiatives, so if you’re looking to get involved let us know.