Part I: The Rising C’s of Our Urban Future

SmartCities_wide

Cities have been the engines of knowledge, productivity and growth throughout history, and will be essential to the future competitiveness of nations and regions. As Smart City implementations become more mainstream, the market is now entering into a new phase: an important period where cities must engage all stakeholders and in particular the citizen to contribute to the decision-making process and to become active in the co-creation of healthier, more sustainable, prosperous and equitable places to live, work and play.

At MCI we are working with associations, cities, start-ups and industrial groups across the globe to create Smart Cities. On this journey we have been witnessing the impact, challenges and opportunities created by the digital transformation of our urban environment. Based on the analysis of these trends, we have identified 7 key insights – what we would like to call the “Rising C’s” of our urban future.

Part I of this article identifies the first four C’s:

1. Climate Change

The UN World Meteorological Organisation latest figures show that 2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row. It also means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century. UN estimates suggest that cities are responsible for 75 percent of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors. This means that cities are and will increasingly be at the front of the battle against climate change.

2. Crowded

By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban. There will be over six billion of us living in cities – that’s more than the global population in 2000. How all those people live, and what their lives are like, will depend on important choices leaders made today and in the coming years. As such, municipalities around the world will be radically increasing their focus on smart city initiatives. Countries will also be following the leadership of their cities, and I expect that we will be seeing an increase in national smart city strategies. Take India for example with its US$15 billion mission to develop 100 smart cities.

3. Competitiveness

The race is on! Cities across the world are ramping up their programs and marketing to become leaders in the Smart City Race. It has become a key part of their place making strategy – and a driver at making their cities the most desirable place to work, play, study and invest in.

At the Smart City Expo in Barcelona this year, there was a 100% growth in the number of cities who had a booth and were dynamically promoting their strategies, solutions and providers. While there are clear leaders such as Barcelona, Copenhagen and Singapore – other cities such as Dubai, London and New York are on their heels – while LATAM giants like Bogota, Buenos Aires and Santiago are rapidly boosting the focus on smart urban development.

To enhance their competitiveness – we see our city clients developing an improved strategy of policy, institutions, resources and processes with a clear goal to enhance their brand, attract investment and talent, and increase the sustainability of their metropolis.

4. Cents and Sensibility

Few cities around the world have actually grown into truly “smart” cities — most are still in the early phases of implementing new technologies. However I do have strong indications that this is changing. With the increase in viable solutions and experienced providers, I do expect an explosion in the implementation of IoT devices like sensors, smart lights, and smart meters to gather data that can be analysed to gain new insights regarding their infrastructure, population, and public services.

One of the most iconic examples of a Smart City along these lines is the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with its Rio Operations Centre. In this centre, the city analyses data collected by sensors scattered throughout the urban area, and views images collected by over 1,000 cameras. The centre, built in 2010, works 24 hours a day and brings together 500 employees.

Like many good innovations, the solutions don’t have to be so complex. By collecting and analysing data from waste containers across a city, companies such as Enevo are helping to reduce waste collection by up to 80%. Pilot cities such as Rotterdam and Edinburgh now know when collections are done and where operations can be further streamlined. They can track their waste generation and get detailed information on how much they are diverting from the landfill by recycling. This results into significant savings on time, fuel, service costs and emissions.

These solutions will reduce the carbon emissions of cities and make the infrastructure more resilient in the face of extreme weather events like hurricanes and tropical storms. It will also have a significant effect of the bottom line of cities, as can be seen by cities such as Dubai who have saved $1.09B between 2003 and 2015 through the adoption of similar smart initiatives.

Stay tuned next week to discover the remaining three C’s!

Like this article? Feel free to contact the author Guy Bigwood, MCI Group Sustainability Director, at @guybigwood or guy.bigwood@mci-group.com.

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