5 ways in which Smart Cities will shape the economy of tomorrow

Posted on: 11/02/2019


While the definition of a Smart city is still changing, some things have become clear; Smart cities leverage information and communication technologies to enhance service levels, the well-being of citizens, sustainability and economic development. With this potential in mind, city leaders are readily installing digital solutions to improve efficiencies and unlock the capabilities of a new connected city ecosystem. But how exactly will smart cities shape the economy of the future? And why has Sadiq Khan outlined his ambition to make London (which has been noted for being severely outpaced by its competitors) the “world’s leading Smart City”? We look at some present examples to see how Smart cities can transform infrastructure and boost cities’ economies.

  1. Automation equals cost in savings

 Automation means less human engagement in some specific task, be it drivers on public transport or customer service agents on phone calls. Automation is a key emerging theme for enterprises of all kind as a wave of digital transformation is sweeping industries such as manufacturing, transportation, IT and more. As cities look to become smarter, many are exploring how they can take advantage of these capabilities, such as AI and cognitive/machine learning, to better manage their assets and operations. Barcelona has saved more than €75 million just by automating the city’s resources such as water, electricity, etc. using IoT (Internet of Things).

  1. Efficiency equals cost in savings

Buildings are central to our everyday activities, but they also consume significant amounts of energy. Cities like Singapore and Seattle are looking to change this with the development of innovative IoT–powered smart buildings. These buildings, with the help of AI and machine-based learning, optimize heating, ventilation and energy usage levels based on the activity of each room. For example, temperature systems consider weather forecasts and holiday periods in their calculations. AI systems within a smart building makes real-time adjustments to optimise their performance and adjust themselves within a range of operational parameters. The benefits realised are lower energy bills and improved energy efficiency. In Seattle, smart analytic systems have reduced emissions for 45% of their city buildings.

  1. Streamlined and responsive utilities equals cost in savings

 Public services and utilities are integral to our daily lives, but their distribution is often managed inefficiently. Encompassing an IoT-based approach, smart cities such as San Diego are monitoring energy use of public facilities and adapting it to every situation. $250,000 in electricity costs has been saved annually with streetlights that brighten only as vehicles or pedestrians approach in remote areas. CityIQ sensors, powered by cellular networks, collect real-time data and their open platform can be used to develop apps, visualise information and provide insights about the city’s operations. ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection app, utilises the network, helping first responders by capturing 90% of gunfire incidents with precise location available in less than a minute; smart cities can save lives.


The data accumulated by San Diego’s CityIQ sensors can support a wide varitety of innovative apps, including Genetec, which facilitates real-time emergency response and Xaqt, which displays the latest traffic conditions.

  1. Smart transportation equals cost in savings

The need for transport of people and goods are increasing, but so is congestion, pollution, road accidents and climate change. We need more mobility, but we must do it in a smarter way. Intelligent transport is often held to be the most important pillar of a smart city, as it enables and accelerates most other smart aspects. In New York City, the Joint Transportation Management Centre (JTMC) covers hundreds of miles of the state arterial system and incorporates thousands of cameras, vehicles detectors, variable message signs and highway advisory radios. Its mission is to manage daily traffic incidents and reduce congestion on some of the busiest expressways in the world.

  1. Talent inflow

Historically, the main driver for urban migration has been the promise of a higher quality of life, driven by increased personal wealth and general opportunities. As smart cities become increasingly better-connected, well-serviced and prosperous places for citizens to live, it is only natural that more people will want to live there, encouraging a healthy mix of populous and inflow of talent. The local and national economy will add to the overall GDP as more people will be working in smart cities.