Smart Cities Set to Boom

Annual investments in smart city projects is expected to surpass US$12 billion in 2025 -- up from just over US$1 billion in 2013.
Published: Tue 05 Aug 2014

The number of smart cities worldwide will quadruple within a 12-year period -- with at least 88 by 2025 -- proliferating as local governments work with the private sector to cope with a multitude of challenges confronting urban centers. This is according to IHS Technology’s report, Smart Cities-an innovation network helping cities develop better electronic services.]

Global smart city development

In 2013, there were 21 smart cities globally -- defined by IHS as cities that have deployed or are currently piloting the integration of information, communications and technology (ICT) solutions across three or more different functional areas of a city, including mobile and transport, energy and sustainability, physical infrastructure, governance, and safety and security.

The combined Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region represented the largest number of smart cities in 2013, but IHS predicts Asia-Pacific will take the lead in 2025 with Asia-Pacific accounting for 32 smart cities, Europe having 31, and the Americas contributing 25.

Major drivers

Smart cities are emerging in response to an increasingly urbanized world dealing with scarce resources and the need to increase energy efficiency. London, for example, is retrofitting both residential and commercial buildings to lessen carbon dioxide emissions, as well as adopting charging infrastructure to support the introduction of 100,000 electric vehicles -- in order to meet environmental and energy efficiency targets.

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. [Engerati-Decentralised Energy Concepts for Smart Buildings in Smart Grids-Project Introduction Aspern, Vienna’s Urban Lakeside.]

Where water is a scarce commodity, smart cities can allocate it using sensors to manage water use or provide critical information on water-storage levels. In Spain, for example, soil-humidity sensors detect when land requires irrigating for more sustainable water use.

Cities across the United States are discovering the benefits of light-emitting diodes (LED) in street lighting -- an area that can take up as much as 40% of a city's energy budget.