By Jesse Berst and David Logsdon
While cities are making progress toward improving living standards and social and environmental sustainability, the impact can be limited by narrow project scopes and obsolete systems. Cities can accelerate and enhance the results of their efforts by adopting a smart cities approach with supporting technologies.
This week, federal, state and local government representatives are working with technology innovators at Smart Cities Week to further explore how smart technologies can improve the livability, workability and sustainability of cities around the world. Over 30 countries and 130-plus American cities are participating in this conference, with the theme focused on climate, compassion and connectivity.
The opportunity and benefits of "smart cities"
A smart city uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability. It collects information about itself using sensors, devices or other systems, and sends the data to an analytics system to understand what's happening now and what's likely to happen next.
Most cities greater than 750,000 in population have at least one — and usually multiple — smart city projects underway in one sector or another. But few cities have a comprehensive, long-term, integrated plan. In fact, there are only a handful of cities worldwide that are well on their way to a full adoption of smart cities technology in an integrated way across all sectors. And many of the real-world smart city examples are typically much larger or smaller than how we traditionally define cities. They're either occurring on a more regional basis or as small neighborhood-by-neighborhood projects.
There is vast potential to provide smart city benefits to a larger number of citizens and those benefits are immense.
First, is the potential to empower citizens, allowing access to unparalleled services provided by local government. These services — spanning several different sectors including transportation, energy, water management and public safety — have the potential to be transformational to the citizen while creating significant efficiencies for the city.
Another is the creation of new jobs. As cities grow their smart technology and services capabilities, there are several emerging employment opportunity sectors:
- Infrastructure. Cities will need to have large teams to help deploy the vast array of sensors that will constitute the Internet of Things (IOT) smart city ecosystem.
- Cybersecurity. With internet-connected sensors, best-in-class cybersecurity solutions and applications are an absolute necessity. A well-trained workforce will need to implement the cyber solutions across the infrastructure ecosystem.
- Analytics. An immense amount of data coming off the IOT sensors will need to be analyzed. City governments will need to beef up their analytical capabilities in order to ensure that citizens gain the most benefits from the analyzed data.
According to the August 2016 CompTIA report "Building Smarter Cities," the primary growth verticals will be in waste management/power grid/utilities, public safety and transportation.