A smart city gathers data from smart devices and sensors embedded in its roadways, power grids, buildings and other assets. It shares that data via a smart communications system that is typically a combination of wired and wireless. It then uses smart software to create valuable information and digitally enhanced services.
Some of those services are used by the city itself. Examples include emergency response centers and city-wide control centers. Likewise, enhancements such as smart power grids and smart water grids improve efficiency and reliability while also giving customers detailed information to help them reduce their bills. And smart transportation uses the power of computers to optimize travel throughout the city.
Some of those services are delivered digitally via computer or smart phone. Examples include online permitting, online lookup of information such as buried cables, water mains, bus arrival times, traffic maps, crime reports, emergency warnings, taxi locations and much more.
Estimates of the smart cities market vary widely. The one constant is a universal expectation of substantial growth. New cities will be built and existing ones will be retrofitted to create economic development and improve the lives of citizens
- According to ABI Research, smart cities technology is an $8.1 billion market today and in five years, the market will grow to almost five times that size, reaching $39.5 billion.
- Pike Research forecasts that investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total $108 billion during the decade from 2010 to 2020.
- The Smart 2020 report is even more bullish, claiming the related technologies and industries will grow four-fold to become a $2.1 trillion market by 2020.
Although projections vary as to which technologies they include under the smart city "umbrella," they all agree there is a significant and rapidly growing market.
Get Smart Cities Now, our weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.