Smart Cities

Smart Cities Bring Together Public Services

Overview Technological advances and community needs are shaping the development of smart cities and keeping communities connected and secure.

The development of smart cities has encouraged community sectors, as well as communities around the world, to plan collaboratively to address society’s pressing questions and needs.

For example, smart cities are bringing together the transportation department and public safety department to regularly communicate. Such data-sharing across departmental silos and with citizens has created a positive mindset for city leaders to champion a sustainable future.

With data availability and transfers, the way cities are able to address community issues has changed — from digital reports for citizens to see which streets have been plowed during snow days to alerts that communicate crime warnings. Many other capabilities have also been developed:

  • Smart LED streetlights have helped communities save up to 60 percent of their electric bills and reinvest those savings into additional technology for the city

  • Citizens are able to avoid traffic jams, find a parking spot, report potholes and more in a simple mobile app

  • In the parks and recreation sector, apps and other sectors have helped engage more citizens

“We’re going to see cities all around the world engaging with this technology at scale, and it’s going to create a much more livable, workable, sustainable, equitable future for all residents,” said Jason Nelson, executive director of partner engagement at the Smart Cities Council. “The future is of course going to be smart.”

We’re going to see cities all around the world engaging with this technology at scale, and it’s going to create a much more livable, workable, sustainable, equitable future for all residents.

Jason Nelson
Executive Director of Partner Engagement, Smart Cities Council

Three Trends as Our Cities Get Smarter

According to Nelson, there are three major focus areas in the smart cities industry that will see significant changes and improvements in the coming five to 10 years:

Early and Collaborative Planning

The topic of smart cities has quickly become more than an aspiration, and city leaders across regional and departmental distinctions have convened to collaborate, ask questions and learn to build more effective connected cities. And these joint efforts are significantly shortening the planning times that are needed to move smart infrastructures and smart solutions into action.

When communities share their expertise and experience deploying at-scale smart cities solutions, other cities around the globe are able to adapt new learnings to their own communities and more quickly unlock innovative solutions to issues.

More Resilient Networks

As these communities come together, the industry is looking at how to make community networks more resilient. With recent hurricanes, wildfires and even cyberattacks, resiliency is more relevant than ever.

“Resiliency is going to be a really critical theme, and cities that are doing it right will be able to recover much more quickly,” Nelson said.

Financing Smart Cities

Smart cities have evolved from a trendy ideal to a realistic and sizeable market opportunity. With this, the industry is looking at how to finance smart cities programs effectively and efficiently, and an increased number of financiers are joining the market to help communities and earn a stable return.

Although historically, financiers have waited for bigger deals, investment in new smaller yet effective projects have helped move the needle in smart cities implementation.

“We can improve the overall health and safety of the community through technology,” Nelson said.

Challenging Cities to Plan Smarter

With their Readiness Challenge, the Smart Cities Council hopes to accelerate the progress of smart cities. The challenge is an annual program that offers communities interactive workshops, mentoring and digital tools that help them develop smart cities plans, and winners are selected on their previous smart city work and the quality of the programs they wish to implement next.

Ultimately, the Smart Cities Council team aims to empower cities to learn about and develop scaled deployments of smart technology to build secure and resilient communities.

Hear Jason Nelson talk more about smart cities on the CES Tech Talk podcast.

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