Technologies Shaping the Smart City Future

POSTED BY James Moar

The Evolution of the Smart City

Smart cities as a concept have been around arguably for 20 years or more, but Amsterdam is credited with creating the world’s first ‘digital city’ in 1994, to drive the uptake of Internet use by its citizens. The concept has since moved on from a purely ‘digital’ activation to a more inclusive ‘sustainable' definition. Technology obviously has a key enabler role but the value generated is more broadly spread across social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

Driving Factors Leading Smart City Development
  • Population Growth: The UN has forecast that 68% of the global population in 2050 will live in cities; doubling the current level and creating concerns about the environment, living conditions for citizens, traffic, and pollution and of course the safety and security of inhabitants.
  • Climate Concerns: The need to rethink how urban conglomerates are contributing to CO2 emissions and the how energy production and usage could be re-configured. 
  • Technology: The development of 5G networks with up to 100x speed and connectivity compared to 4G and very low latency has meant city planners can now envisage the IoT (Internet of Things) as applied to a citywide landscape.
  • Commercial Innovation: Business innovations by both large tech giants and small nimble players, deployed by cities worldwide as they attempt to trial applications and realise benefits.

5G a Game Changer for Smart City Adoption

The low power required of 5G will support IoT devices using batteries which can last theoretically for decades and can support thousands of different sensors in factories, commercial premises, offices, homes, logistics flows, asset tracking (including people), and will open up completely new smart areas such as agriculture where livestock can be tracked, for example.

The Importance of Government Services 

Smart cities are not just the citizens but also the enterprises which make up the economy of the city. Expansion of the commercial and industrial base of cities directly affects the revenue of the enterprises but also has positive effects on the revenue base of the city at large. A vibrant and expansive industrial or commercial base is essential for the growth of a city. 

Therefore, the advent of 4G LTE and the arrival of 5G has opened up immense possibilities for enterprises across many industries, to consider the use of private networks in conjunction with IoT devices.

Smart Buildings a New Key Trend

In line with increased focus on climate and energy conservation, the EU and UK measured the energy consumption of buildings at between 35%-40% of total energy consumed. These high figures and potential huge savings propelled the next wave of smart green buildings powered by IoT sensors.

In addition to the usual monitoring of the building’s temperature and humidity and energy savings (70% less than other comparable buildings), the leading smart buildings functions are determined not by the building but by how it manages the occupant. Everything about an occupant’s experience starts in the morning with an app – it knows your diary, knows what car you drive, it finds you a spot on arrival, it directs you to an appropriate desk or meeting room depending on need (no-one has a fixed desk), it even knows your preferences for drinks and how your like your lighting or temperature.

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► Smart Cities Market Research

Our latest research found:
  • Shanghai will be the world’s number one smart city for 2022, thanks to its Citizen Cloud platform - a one-stop point for over 1,000 different services for city residents. 
  • Smart city initiatives will generate almost $70 billion in spend annually by 2026; up from $35 billion in 2021.
  • Much of this will focus on smart grid initiatives, which will save over 1,000 TWh of electricity in 2026; equivalent to more than 5 years of energy consumption by Greater London at present levels.
  • Smart city development are still in their early stages, particularly outside the leading cities, so initial roll-outs still make up much of the market.