For more than a decade, the smart city movement has been driven by visions of how technology can help address some of the most intractable urban challenges. City leaders are understanding the need to rebuild better to ensure resilience to future pandemic events, accelerate the shift to zero-carbon cities, and address the gross social inequalities in many cities.
In an article for Smart Energy International, Eric Woods, research director with Guidehouse Insights, says that the global smart city technology market is expected to be worth $101 billion in annual revenue in 2021 and to grow to $240 billion by 2030, as detailed in a related report.
“This investment will be spread over all elements of city infrastructure, including energy and water systems, transport, building upgrades, Internet of Things networks and applications, the digitalization of government services, and new data platforms and analytical capabilities,” Woods said.
These investments–and particularly those made in the next five years–will have a profound impact on the shape of our cities over the next 25 years. Many cities already have plans to be carbon neutral or zero-carbon cities by 2050 or earlier. Impressive as such commitments may be, making them a reality requires new approaches to urban infrastructure and services enabled by new energy systems, building and transportation technologies, and digital tools. It also requires new platforms that can support collaboration among city departments, businesses, and citizens in the transformation to a zero-carbon economy.
In the article, Woods highlights four areas of technology innovation that will influence decisions made in the next five to 10 years: high connectivity, artificial intelligence, automation, and clean energy systems.
“How these technologies are used today, how quickly they are deployed, in what forms and with what modes of governance and citizen acceptance, will provide the contours for cities of the future,” Woods said. “The biggest unknown is the combinatorial capacity of all of the above coming together on a global scale and the emergent properties of fully connected, automated, and intelligent cities.”