SMART CITY (I): A business opportunity

According to the UN, cities will represent 70% of the total world population by 2050. That means 6.300 million people (the global population seven years ago) will inhabit in cities. These data give a clue about how important the creation of strategic lines for cities will become in the future. At this point, a concept has arisen as a way to solve some of the problems that will appear: SMART CITIES.

smartcities2In the white papers “The Smart City Cornerstone: Urban Efficiency” (Charbel Aoun, 2013), a smart city is described as “a community that is efficient, livable and sustainable- and these three elements go hand with hand”. It may seem quite clear, but in fact it is based on broad concepts and concretizing is harder than it seems. Despite this fuzzy expression, the truth is that governments and companies are becoming aware they may not have another option but to invest in new solutions for these arising issues.

WHY are they interested in achieving these goals? Well, if you have some moral besides economical principles, you may think of welfare, environment or transparency. All of them are included in the concept of smart cities. Nevertheless, it is also incredibly important from an economic point of view; it has to do with efficiency. The report “Hot Spots – Benchmarking the future competitiveness of cities” (The Economist, Intelligence unit, 2013) states that investing in the quality of infrastructures, welfare and public institutions is essential for the competitiveness of cities. Therefore, becoming a smart city is critically important. Now the point is: HOW do we make it?

Smart cities – Areas of work: infrastructures, humans and planning & management. Source: IBM

Smart cities – Areas of work: infrastructures, humans and planning & management. Source: IBM

This non-solved problem is also an opportunity to succeed. IBM has been one of the first companies to see the possibilities of this new field. They have created a specific division for this topic with solutions for infrastructures, government administration or social programs, just to point out some of their areas of work.

But IBM is not the only one. Many companies have realized the potential of smart cities and are creating their own departments. These companies spend money to develop new technologies and adapt some existing ones so they can give an answer to these new necessities. ICT (information and communications technologies) have turned out to be essential to manage data and solve some of the problems, but there are many other tools and points of view to implement in this virgin area. We will come back to this topic in other posts, so we can get a holistic view of smart cities and their new philosophy.

So what about you? Are you ready to take profit of this bunch of new opportunities?

Dario Moreno.
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