When the Smart Cities practice for Council Associate Partner IDC began tracking and forecasting what its researchers believed would be the biggest influences on the direction and depth of global smart city progress, the number one prediction on its prioritized top 10 list for 2013 was that most smart city project investment would be in energy, transportation and public safety. Times have changed… and we've moved ahead.
Skip to predictions for 2015 and the number one prediction was substantially different: jurisdictions involved in smart cities initiatives were expected to develop standards and benchmarks to monitor their performance.
The number one prediction for 2016?
However, the leap from 2015 to 2016 doesn't seem like a long one. In fact, it's more of a natural progression. IDC's number one prediction for 2016 is that at least 20 of the world's largest countries will develop national smart city policies "to prioritize funding and document technical and business guidelines" by 2017.
The number two prediction, in conjunction with the first, adds to an emerging overall theme: cities are becoming more aware of the need for a precise game plan. Within the next three years, one-third of medium- to large-size cities will "define their Smart City Roadmap leveraging third-party maturity models and best practice studies."
Economic growth and livability also are high on the list. IDC forecasts that through 2018, 90% of smart city action plans will concentrate on supporting socio-economic efforts to reduce economic divisions, increase domestic industry and the number of skilled workers. Within the same time frame, 75% of state and local organizations will draw from citizen data generated from external sources and use it for transportation management and real-time crime centers -- although they will be challenged with the task of converting data from a variety of sources and formats into information they can use quickly and effectively.
Privacy and security risks
While policy and planning may be the top issue for 2016 and IoT remains a hot topic, IDC expects 90% of cities to miss the boat when it comes to established policies governing public and private use of drones, sensors and other devices. That oversight will open cities up to privacy and security risks. And the research firm says roughly the same about transportation and public safety IoT investments.
Communications and networks as well as data also are on the list for 2016, as one would expect. Also not too surprising: the steady advances in connected and driverless cars that have been an increasingly prominent part of the smart city dialogue make their first appearance in the latest predictions as cities devote increasing equipment and communications resources to them.
Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.