A smart city is an innovative city that leverages technology and data to enhance public services. This can involve utilizing data analytics, sensor technology, and other advanced technologies to optimize resources, improve efficiency, and reduce waste. Smart cities often apply technology in the areas of transportation, energy, healthcare, security, and communication.
The concept of smart cities is evolving and does not have a one-size-fits-all definition. However, there are several characteristics that smart cities commonly possess, including the broad use of ICT, a strong pro-business ethos, real-time monitoring, increasing use of technology and innovation, and sustainability.
A research study published by Juniper Research reviews trends and market evolutions in smart city development. The study explores two ways in which smart cities could be developed, scaling from greenfield cities or specific pilot domains.
Large-scale greenfield cities, or ‘eco-cities,’ are designed and built with embedded smart technology rather than adapting it. On the other hand, specific pilot domains focus on solving specific problems and are designed to start small and usually act as a model for other cities.
The report goes on to outline the evolution of smart cities in terms of application. With regard to market evolution in smart city development:
- The trajectory for data platforms has been relatively rapid in the last 10 years. However, transportation has developed much faster than smart data platforms.
- Communication is a key element in most city smart initiatives and is one of the easiest elements to execute.
- Smart energy is expected to be realized after decades of development as it requires extensive capital resources and longer lead time.
- With a focus on climate and energy conservation, the next phase of smart green buildings is powered by IoT sensors, which detect changes in an environment and collect data.
- The advent of 4G LTE and the arrival of 5G has opened up immense possibilities for enterprises across many industries to consider the use of private networks in conjunction with IoT devices.
Juniper Research forecasts smart city initiatives will generate almost 70 billion dollars in spend annually by 2026, up from 35 billion dollars in 2021. Much of this will focus on smart grid initiatives, which will save over 1,000 Terawatt-hours of electricity in 2026, 100 times that of Ethiopia’s estimated annual energy consumption.
Based on the Juniper Research Worldwide Smart City Ranking, Shanghai is the leading city in terms of smart city development. Shanghai deploys:
- digital twinning (a virtual representation of real-time objects and systems),
- a one-number call center which removes the need for citizens to find out which service or department to call, and
- a citizen cloud app through which citizens can contact the government about various issues.
Different smart city projects are also taking place in Africa, such as Eko Atlantic City (Nigeria), New Administrative Capital (Egypt), and Konza Technopolis (Kenya). In Ethiopia, Ethiotelecom is working on Smart City projects and signed an agreement with Adama City Administration in November 2022.
Key motivations for smart city development in developing countries may include improving government efficacy in public service delivery, enhancing citizens’ quality of life, promoting inclusive governance, and inclusion of vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
Based on the drivers and barriers to smart city development, it is recommended that developing markets take the following measures in building smart cities:
- Step up the effort to fulfill basic infrastructure needs (such as electrification, sanitation, clean water provision, and road construction),
- Raise adequate financing for smart city development,
- Construct regulatory frameworks for smart city governance,
- Develop human capital and promote digital inclusivity,
- Create a supportive ecosystem that nurtures start-ups and promotes public-private partnerships,
- Promote environmental sustainability.
Access the Juniper research here