Smart cities are the "biggest market for IT in the world," according to Joe Dignan, chief European public sector analyst for tech research and analysis firm Ovum. And he has a lot more to say about smart city initiatives and why the smart cities market is so strong at a time when so many others are not.
Quoted in Public Technology, Dignan said "Cities are economic engines. The 19th and 20th centuries were about nation states – but cities have been around much longer."
In outlining the reason for the smart cities market's growth and strength, he noted that estimates of the market value are all over the map but it remains clear that cities will be very important in the future economy.
Some of Dignan's observation include:
- One reason for the strong smart cities market is that it's global, and new or developing cities are its "bread and butter" because of the relative ease of retrofitting infrastructure.
- Older European cities are more complicated because of the architecture, age and challenges of introducing modern infrastructure in existing, heavily built up cities.
- The smart city concept can be extended well beyond our traditional definitions of a city to include such structures as oil rigs which can frequently be considered "small cities on stilts."
- The increasing frequency of natural disasters also will drive the use of smart city technology. As Dignan put it in the article, "Government needs to get things back up again ASAP – they need a cloud-based government in a box."
- The growing smart cities market and its technologies also offer opportunities for other industries that would want to take part such as banks, utilities, telecom and IT companies and more.
- It's also a matter of economics and timing, according to Dignan. The growth of the technology has coincided with Europe's austerity measures, meaning governments have to adopt the new technology.
And there are what he referred to as the four horsemen of the IT apocalypse: the arrival of scalable and cost-effective cloud technology, the "Internet of Things" offering more opportunity for online innovation, the "bring your own" trend which has created growing interest in smart city technology, and the combination of austerity and slow growth that has made the technology more attractive for its ability to reduce costs and take better advantage of data.
Dignan also highlighted the importance of integrating IT as soon as possible in the process to ensure project success and for the IT industry's benefit.