The New Economy recently reported that the urban population is forecast to grow by approximately 60 million every year, with the overall number of city dwellers doubling — from 3.4 billion to 6.4 billion — between 2009 and 2050. This urban-centric trend has significantly accelerated sophisticated technological, societal and economic gains in some of the world’s most advanced cities.
Indeed, IHS analysts believe the number of smart cities worldwide will quadruple over the next 12 years as local governments collaborate with the private sector to address a multitude of challenges confronting urban centers.
According to Wikipedia, a city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital, as well as traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life.
“By providing appropriate technologies and solutions, smart cities can deal with issues such as congestion and energy waste, while also allocating stressed resources more efficiently and helping to improve quality of life,” IHS analyst Lisa Arrowsmith wrote in a July 2014 blog post.
“[In addition], smart cities can help achieve energy-efficient targets. London, for example, is retrofitting both residential and commercial buildings to lessen carbon dioxide emissions. [Plus], the city is adopting charging infrastructure to support the introduction of 100,000 electric vehicles.”
As Arrowsmith points out, smart cities also provide other benefits, including new employment opportunities and cost savings facilitated by light-emitting diodes (LED) in street lighting.
“If city denizens feel that smart cities improve their way of life, the likelihood of them leaving is reduced, helping the city maintain revenue through the taxes that are collected,” Arrowsmith continued.
“Meanwhile, territories can attract new talent or businesses dazzled by the prospect of living in a smartly functioning city. Ultimately, the intentions of smart city projects—and the associated return on investment—will depend on the smart city technologies being put to use.”
Senior Rambus exec Jerome Nadel concurs with Arrowsmith’s assessment, noting that smart cities will be built on the new digital infrastructure enabled by ubiquitous connectivity and ever increasing bandwidth.
“These are the basic foundations of the Internet of Thing (IoT) and the elements that enable the chain of ‘capture, secure, move,’ from the sensor through the cloud to the end user,” he explained.
“Smart sensors, secure transmission, and performant movement of data, coupled with applications and analytics, is what makes cities smart.”