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The Future is Bright for Smart Cities

Steve Koenig, Sr. Director of Market Research, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Expressed as connected, data-driven communities designed to foster a better quality of life through improved urban efficiency and greater environmental sustainability, smart cities represent the grandest summation of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Unlike devices, which are well-defined, smart cities can take different forms based on the initiatives of a given community. However, all smart cities have three key elements in common: robust connectivity, sensors and advanced data analytics.

The combination of these elements deployed in urban environments enables an array of benefits, such as improving public safety, reducing pollution and curbing traffic congestion. In addition, smart cities can promote greater civic engagement by enabling better access to information and sharing economy business models.

With 66 percent of the world’s population estimated to live in urban areas by 2050, the development of smart cities is a timely trend. Funding levels are rising rapidly. According to Navigant Research, the global smart city technology market is expected to grow from $36.8 billion in 2016 to $88.7 billion by 2025.

Transportation and traffic issues are among the leading drivers of smart city planning, because of the impact on the economy, quality of life and environment. Also consider that most smart city projects are publically funded, and remedying traffic headaches can be a priority among voters. Initial efforts often lead to greater manifestations of the smart city and benefits multiply. For example, connecting city infrastructure and roadways with cameras and other sensors to grapple with gridlock dovetails into greater public safety as these technologies are used by local law enforcement and fire prevention; not to mention less traffic emissions means cleaner air.

Looking ahead, the future is bright for smart cities. Several emerging technologies will invariably take their place in the modern smart city during the next decade, leveling-up benefits to urban dwellers yet again through greater automation. Among these are mobility technologies like self-driving vehicles and drones, but also enabling technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G that will bring a new dimension of possibilities to the smart city.

To glimpse the smart city of today — and, more importantly, tomorrow — be sure to visit the Smart Cities Marketplace at CES 2018. Registration for CES opens on Sept. 6. Sign up now to receive CES news and be notified when registration opens.