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A Tale of Smart Cities

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  • Smart Offices: Smart offices can leverage automation systems to monitor and control operations to improve lighting, air conditioning, air quality and employee security. This will not only allow employees to work more efficiently but will also provide valuable cost savings to middle-market businesses.
  • Water Monitoring Systems: Underground water infrastructure can monitor and diagnose problems such as leaks and stoppages, take preemptive measures to manage maintenance and optimize water distribution.
  • Connected Cars: Soon, self-driving cars will shuttle people in and out of the city so they can multitask with work or other activities. Smart parking meters can also inform drivers of parking availability.

With the advancement of the 5G network, a key smart city enabler, smart infrastructure will be supported by high-speed connection, quicker response times and increased data storage capacity.

The Power of Public-Private Partnership

Putting smart technologies to work in cities will require a new level of partnership among government, corporate and investor stakeholders. Middle-market businesses from a variety of sectors–such as construction, telecommunications and transportation–will play critical roles, as will relatively young industries such as artificial intelligence, clean tech, cybersecurity and renewable energy. As reported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, here are examples of various global smart city initiatives driven by public-private partnerships:

  • Singapore is undergoing one of the world’s largest smart city rollouts, Smart Nation, with a $2 billion program focused on large-scale data aggregation and transfer. This data network will be used by both government and middle-market businesses in the health care and banking industries to offer services such as predictive health care and cashless transactions to Singapore city residents.
  • London, through partnership with FM Conway Ltd. and parking technology specialist Smart Parking Limited, deployed Infrared SmartEye sensors in more than 3,000 parking spaces to determine parking availability and transmit the information to the ParkRight mobile app to provide drivers with a real-time map of available spaces.
  • Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA), a private-public coalition including local government, corporations, civic organizations, NGOs and academia, joined forces to transform Dallas into a “forward-thinking, innovative smart global city.” DIA’s initiatives include the creation of a connected “living lab” and the installation of smart LED light bulbs in the city to capture real-time data on air quality and traffic congestion.

Accessibility and Personalization

To create a sustainable urban environment, city planners must ensure smart city technologies are accessible to residents and business owners. Smart city technology will enable everyday objects to become smarter and more connected, thus increasing the economic, social and environmental efficiency of the urban ecosystem. Through smartphones, TVs, tablets and wearable devices, residents must not only be aware of, but also comfortable with, the smart infrastructure around them. From individualized temperature and lighting controls, to customized retail experiences, no two lives in smart cities will be the same.  Voice assistants, “smart” signage and responsive streets in smart cities will allow both community members and business owners to thrive in the urban ecosystem.

Smart cities have the potential to reduce the negative impact of urban population growth by using technology to cut energy usage, reduce traffic delays and stem water loss. By implementing smart technologies, business leaders and local governments in public-private partnerships can reshape urban environments and in turn, fuel economic growth. Investment in the modernization of cities, while crucial in facing short-term urban challenges, will also lay the groundwork for a more sustainable place to live, work and do business for future generations.

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