Smart city markets: Where the money is

Sun, 2013-06-30 16:11 -- Jesse Berst

"Go west, young man" was the advice given to American pioneers seeking wealth. Today the advice would be "target cities as your customer," at least according to a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, City as a Customer— Identifying Growth Opportunities in Cities of Tomorrow. -- Jesse Berst


Cities are not only the dominant contributors to country economies, but increasingly to the global economy itself, says Frost & Sullivan. In a recent article on its site (requires free registration), the research firm confirmed that smart cities are developing into a new industry with white space marketing opportunities, highly customized solutions and new urban business models.

What opportunities in particular? F&S says smart cities are built on eight pillars:

  1. Smart governance (e-government), with needs including disaster management and biometric identity
  2. Smart energy, with needs including smart grids and integration of renewables
  3. Smart buildings, with needs including smart retrofits and advanced materials
  4. Smart mobility (transportation), with needs such as park & ride systems, car and bike sharing, and multi-modal transport
  5. Smart infrastructure
  6. Smart technology (information and communications technology)
  7. Smart healthcare, with needs including e-health and self-monitoring
  8. Smart citizens

"Cities, rather than countries, will be targeted as hubs of investment, wealth creation and economic growth and vie with countries in terms of their economic and investment influence," noted Senior Research Analyst Archana Vidyasekar. "Each city will become a customer. Every city will be highly unique in its infrastructure demands. This will have cross-sectoral... implications, presenting opportunities in industries as diverse as mobility, healthcare, logistics, smart products, security, and retail."

Companies that look at cities as customers and position themselves as partners will not only benefit from new business opportunities but also avoid future bottlenecks, wastage and diseconomies of scale, Vidyaseker maintains.

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Jesse Berst is the Founding Chairman of Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.