The number of smart cities in the world is exploding. So is the amount of IoT devices that make them possible. In 2015, the worldwide spend on smart cities was roughly $14.9 billion. Within those smart cities, there were 1.18 billion connected things. By 2018, the number of connected devices had tripled to 3.33 billion¹, and experts now project worldwide spend on smart cities will grow to around $34.45 billion by 2020².
Smart technology is fueling that growth because of the way it addresses the challenges of urban living. Cities that struggle with crime can improve public safety with video analytics and smart lighting, for instance. Other cities might struggle with environmental concerns and reduce their carbon footprint by using IoT devices that increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions.
Multiple aspects of city life can be improved with smart technology, including transportation, law enforcement, waste management, public hospitals and libraries, and school systems. It all happens by tapping into the power of big data, smart devices, and cloud infrastructure. And the success isn’t just theoretical. Cities we’re all familiar with are already making changes and seeing the benefits of smart technology.
5 Successful Smart City Examples
Around the world, cities are undergoing a digital transformation to improve the lives of their citizens, optimize city resources, and reduce carbon emissions. Here are five smart cities embracing change and using technology to solve local and international problems.
Once called “the dirtiest city in America,” Chattanooga started cleaning up their community by using a fiber network to create a smart grid. The grid saves energy and automatically reroutes power in the case of a failure, so the network stays up and running even if there’s a problem in one area.
That fiber network propelled Chattanooga into becoming the city with the fastest broadband network in the Western Hemisphere. They even used the network to take on challenges in education, opening up a STEM school to encourage technological innovation in the city’s youth.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Bristol, UK experienced a transformation by offering a 30 Gbps fiber broadband networking capability to its citizens. This change began a revolution that occurred in the city that soon after attracted top technology minds wanting to create a smart city. This group is ready to tackle the world’s problems through technological innovation.
Bristol is now UK’s “leading smart city” with a projected growth of 23% (from 2014 to 2039)³. The city plans to keep innovating and use this updated technology to support the needs of the University of Bristol, Bristol City Council, local businesses, and its citizens.
The Palava project built a smart city from the ground up. Construction began in 2010, with the first citizens arriving in 2014. City planners constructed this 4,500-acre city near Mumbai without the need for cars, which drastically reduces emissions, helping the environment and creating a city of the future. Palava expects to have half a million people living in the city by 2025 and 100,000 jobs in and around the city.
New York, New York
New York City utilizes connected technology by placing smart screens around the city which offer news, events, tourist information, coupons, and more. The city has raked in millions in advertising which helps pay for the new technology. NYC is home to improved public transportation systems as well. Gone are the days of guessing when a train will arrive since the city installed countdown clocks at every station. These clocks are connected to each train, and arrival times are available through an MTA travel app as well.
London, United Kingdom
To reduce its carbon footprint, London encourages its citizens to use smart transportation and smart parking services. The city is also equipped with a robust video surveillance system, which has caused controversy and concern over public privacy. However, other smart technology, such as video analytics, could help alleviate these concerns in future cities by reducing how much video is monitored and stored. For instance, a video analytics system will flag a burglary and store the relevant video footage while deprioritizing ordinary pedestrian footage so it is not directly monitored or stored for future viewing.
Cities that undergo a digital transformation experience cost-saving and environmental benefits while improving the daily lives of their residents. Citizens enjoy a connected city because they can easily find parking and transportation options while feeling safe and protected. Smart cities create a better relationship between third-party vendors, such as utilities, who can use this technology to offer new services to customers. Smart cities can earn more as well through advertising opportunities, which help pay for many of the technological upgrades. Smart cities attract entrepreneurs and technologically-savvy citizens who want to live in and help grow a municipality centered on innovation.
¹ Statista – Installed base of connected things within smart cities from 2015 to 2018: – https://www.statista.com/statistics/422886/smart-cities-connected-things-installed-base/
² Statistica – Spending on smart cities worldwide in 2015 and 2020 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/757638/spending-on-smart-cities-worldwide/
³ Bristol – UK’s Number One Smart City – https://www.bristolisopen.com/bristol-uks-number-one-smart-city/