Smart Cities

The 4Cs to Building a Smart City

This article is an excerpt from a story that originally appeared in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview Smart cities are in the process of being redefined by technology designed to improve urban life as we know it.

According to Jesse Berst, chairman of the Smart Cities Council in Reston, Va., there are four major components to any successful smart city initiative now being developed.


This is the very heart of IoT and networking in which data is being collected and shared about a city’s condition — and this is happening anywhere and everywhere.

“You don’t have to wonder if your streets are congested,” Brest says. Your streets tell you, thanks to a system of cameras, apps and networking.


This is about accessing and sharing data where it’s needed most, like city-wide networks that Berst predicts will soon operate on a 5G network (it’s already being tested in Asia).


This is how analytics are read and reported, ushering in an era of predictive analytics that help local governments make smarter decisions. For example: Should a traffic light change 10 seconds earlier to help cut back on congestion? Could a water sensor discover a leak before there’s any real damage to a street or community?


This is how people truly harness the power of the other three categories — with data and tools over a secure communications network. The result can be as simple as knowing when to turn off lights when no one is in a room to tracking street maintenance before it poses a problem.

Berst thinks of smarter cities in two ways — the first in terms of outside-in and the second as an inside-out approach.

“Outside-in is getting this information, getting environmental sensors and video cameras,” he says. “Inside-out is taking the city’s services and delivering them digitally. Just like I do a big percentage of my shopping and most of my banking on my phone, people expect to interact with their cities 24/7 by phone or browser.”

According to CTA market research, more than $34 billion will be spent to create smarter cities by 2020. 


Read about how Estonia is leading the way in smart cities in "Inside Smart Cities: What We Can Learn from Estonia and Other High-Tech Wonderlands" from i3 magazine.

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It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry.

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