Smart city development now a global phenomenon, says Navigant Research
Smart city development now a global phenomenon, says Navigant Research

Smart city development now a global phenomenon, says Navigant Research

There are more than 250 smart city projects underway across 178 cities around the world, according to a new report from market research company Navigant Research.

The Smart City Tracker 1Q17 examines the current state of global smart city development, covering the related aspects of the smart energy, smart water, smart transportation, smart buildings, and smart governments sectors, segmented by region.

This includes investments in areas such as open data platforms, smart grids, networked LED street lights, urban mobility, energy-efficient buildings, water management, and government service applications.

The report finds that, of the 252 smart city projects tracked, the majority of projects are smart government-led (40 percent), with smart energy coming a relatively close second (27 percent).

Smart transportation (18 percent), smart buildings (11 percent), and smart water (four percent) projects made up the rest.

Interestingly, the majority of projects tracked were in Europe, with Asia Pacific in second and North America third.

Read more: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular smart city transport

Smart city projects ‘a global phenomenon’

Navigant’s assessment is that a growing number of cities are developing programs for the deployment of smart solutions around the world, to the extent that it is now “a global phenomenon”.

“Leading cities are looking at how they can build on their initial investment in open data and the data feeds being provided by Internet of Things applications,” said Christina Jung, research analyst with Navigant Research.

“Cities are moving beyond the publication of government open data policies to the exploitation of a wide range of data sources and the establishment of city platforms for information sharing and use of analytics.”

The widespread interest in smart city programs is creating a growing market opportunity. As sensor technology improves and costs decrease, smart technologies are becoming more efficient, higher performing, and cheaper than ever before, according to the report.

So much so that Navigant expects the global market for smart city products and services to be worth $40.1 billion in 2017, a figure which it projects will grow to $97.9 billion by 2026, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4 percent.

Why some lead others

Jung told Internet of Business that the “Region with the highest number of smart city projects is Europe backed by climate change goals and government initiatives.

“Europe is leading the world in terms of the number of projects, as well as the depth of cross-sector project integration. Plus, there are various cross-border collaborations with the goal of developing replicable solutions,” Jung said.

“Next, smart city projects in Asia Pacific tend to be coordinated by the central government – notably in India and China. India’s Smart Cities Mission launched in 2015 by the Prime Minister continues to make steady progress. China’s 13th Five Year Plan renews its dedication towards infrastructure development.

“In North America, there has been a strong support for smart city projects (especially transportation and mobility projects) under the Obama administration.”

It’s all in the data

Reflecting on what makes a city smart, Peter Pugh-Jones, head of technology at business analytics company SAS UK & Ireland, told Internet of Business that most cities have vast quantities of data that could be used to improve public services, but he stressed the importance of using data effectively.

“To start with government agencies must understand what data is relevant, so they’ll know what to store and what to ignore. However, simply collecting data is no longer enough. To really benefit from the promise of IoT, individual cities need to apply analytics. In addition, they need to be able to do analytics away from traditional data centers and towards devices on the edge – the ‘things’,” said Pugh-Jones.

“Whether managing resources like water and energy, controlling local traffic and parking, or collecting and responding to citizen-provided information, local governments need more flexibility about where, when and how to act upon IoT data. Only then can they get ahead of the competition and put their ‘smart’ city on the map.

“The race to make a city ‘smart’ is on but success in this space comes down to one important factor: the ability to apply analytics.”

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