The COVID-19 pandemic caused headaches for nearly every industry. One place this is evident is in cities, as a large question mark was placed in front of many initiatives. Now, it is time to look to the future and uncover what the true “city of the future” will look like.
GlobalData points to one very specific challenge for cities: infrastructure. Technologies such as 5G, AI (artificial intelligence) and the IoT (Internet of Things) will underpin our global infrastructure including health, water, broadband, and more. This won’t be an easy feat. The pandemic’s economic fallout means municipal government often don’t have the funds to invest in large-scale smart-city initiatives.
Still, according to a study released by Oracle in 2021, 65% of city leaders suggest the biggest lesson learned during the pandemic was just how crucial smart-city programs were for their future. Once this is achieved, we will have smarter cities. In fact, in spite of the fallout from the pandemic, GlobalData predicts the global smart-cities market will roughly double in size from $221.1 billion in 2019 to $442.5 billion in 2030.
To reach this, though, we will need to digitize work, shopping, education, and so much more. In order to better understand what comes next, let’s dig a little bit deeper into that Oracle report.
Tech in the City
Roughly 88% of leaders believe investment in cloud platforms is the most urgent requirement needed for the successful delivery of citizen services and all of Cities 4.0—which is what the report uses to refer to smart cities—have already made a hefty investment in cloud.
Building on that 66% of cities are already investing heavily in AI (artificial intelligence)—with a focus on digital assistants and chatbots—with 80% planning to invest in the near future. Another 31% of cities are planning to invest in digital twins.
Cybersecurity in the City
Cybersecurity will become critical in order to protect our urban infrastructures. Roughly 60% of city leaders do not feel that their cities are safe from cyberattacks—international or domestic—due to vulnerabilities stemming from financial constraints, a shrinking IT talent pool, and other factors. That number is, quite honestly, a bit shocking. I would have guessed it would have been much closer to 100%.
Here is the good news. Roughly 95% of Cities 4.0 ensure that cybersecurity is accounted for early on in projects. Perhaps that is why smart-city leaders are confident in their cybersecurity measures.
Collaboration in the City
We have said this many times before. The only way we are going to make smart cities a reality is if we prioritize partnerships. Roughly half of city leaders claim finding the right partner is one of the biggest hurdles to meeting their city’s goals. Meanwhile 83% of cities want their partners to offer solutions that enable a high level of innovation, while also ensuring safety and security.
A lot of factors need to converge at the right time to bring this vision to fruition. What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for smart cities?
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