Cisco announces $1 billion smart cities fund
Cisco announces $1 billion smart cities fund

Cisco announces $1 billion smart cities fund

Networking giant Cisco has announced a $1 billion programme aimed at helping cities around the globe invest in technologies to transform their communities.

Smart cities are creating lots of buzz, in the global drive towards less pollution, safer streets and better quality of life for residents. However, finance officers for hard-pressed municipalities often have limited resources to invest in solutions to make their cities smarter.

In response, Cisco has teamed up with private equity firm Digital Digital Alpha Advisors and pension fund investors APG Asset Management (APG) and Whitehelm Capital to make funding available.

Read more: Cambridge Consultants: Where’s my smart city?

Big funding

By accessing Cisco’s City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program, global cities will be able to fund and deploy innovative technology with minimal investment, and will get the expertise they need to choose the right technologies, according to the company.

In particular, Cisco is targeting cities that want to reduce energy usage, ease traffic and parking, and boost public transportation ridership and revenues.

There’s also a focus on revenue-share financing, which helps cities finance desired outcomes while extending future budgets as a result of new revenue streams.

Read more: NEC wins contract for Lisbon smart city project

Transforming cities

The company announced the news at the Smart City Expo World Congress today, which is taking place in Barcelona. It also unveiled a new addition to the Kinetic IoT data platform.

Called Kinetic for Cities, the feature helps city officials improve public safety. It offers full-policy automation options, as well as an improved dashboard with integrated video and updates.

The firm is looking to improve emergency response times, too. Its platform now provides real-time emergency information based on additional IoT data sources.

Read more: Kigali IoT network provides blueprint for African smart city initiatives

New opportunities

Terry Yates, infrastructure and network manager at the Town of Cary in North Carolina, said: “The Cisco Kinetic for Cities platform provides us the tools we need to positively affect our citizens’ lives.”

Anil Menon, global president of Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities, said: “Funding is a major stumbling block for municipalities beginning their smart city transformation.

“With our partners, Cisco will bring the capital and expertise it takes to make smart city projects a reality. Digital Alpha, APG, and Whitehelm Capital bring a fresh perspective on investment in an area that has previously been perceived as too new and, therefore, too difficult to finance.”

Mark West, business development manager at ByBox, said: “A smart city is one that uses data and technology to better serves the needs of the public, which promotes economic development in a sustainable way to improve infrastructure.

“IoT and smart cities are on a journey to transform modern life. These cities will only accelerate in the coming years with more research being conducted, as well as the UK’s Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport having allocated funding for smart city pilots.

Read more: Smart city development now a global phenomenon, says Navigant Research

Challenges ahead

West added: “Of course, this transformation brings with it additional challenges. As cities become more automated and technology-dependent, those in charge have to ask themselves how to ensure that when those systems break down or suffer an outage, they can be swiftly brought back up to speed again.

“Many of us face the uncertainty of driving up to a set of traffic lights and finding them to be down. Drivers either hesitantly drive to the junction or boldly assume they have right of way, but it causes confusion.

“When technology downtime could impact not just an intersection but a whole urban area, the issue of ensuring smart devices and automation are fixed quickly and efficiently is becoming increasingly important.”

Read more: San Diego to get $30 million smart city network