By 2050, there will be more citizens living in cities than in rural areas by a ratio of 2:1. As the Internet of Things ecosystem matures, there will be new opportunities for city managers to manage infrastructure, traffic and daily living, says a report published by Future Today Institute (FTI).
Public-private partnerships, affordable technology, long-term urban and budget planning and equal access to all citizens are just a few things that make cities smart.
Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar already launched smart city partnerships with Japan, which has pledged to help Southeast Asian cities ease traffic congestion, introduce cashless payments and harness environmental data to improve the quality of life.
This is an alternative to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which is dedicating billions of dollars in loans for various projects to help modernize its partner countries.
Globally, the market for smart city projects could increase to more than US$1 trillion by 2025, which means there are going to be multinational partnerships as well as public-private partnerships.
In cities throughout the U.S., universities are starting to partner with city councils on a wide range of experiments. The Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Washington are deploying a variety of sensors around Seattle to improve hyper-local weather forecasting due to climate change.
Landscrapers are on the horizon
“In the future, architects may choose to build laterally, rather than vertically. Advancements in the technology that moves elevators now allow them to move omnidirectionally,” says Amy Webb, CEO of FTI.
“Given what we know to be true about extreme weather and climate change, it’s plausible that economic centers will move inland from the coasts, and that landscrapers will become more mainstream over the next 20 years,” Webb predicts.
Spanning massive areas the size of several football fields, these new buildings would be able to withstand high winds and temperature changes. They will create entirely new city footprints we haven’t seen before in the U.S., Webb added.
Smart city’s cybersecurity
Historically, cybersecurity hasn’t been a top priority for municipalities. However, as more local government services moving online, municipal managers are investing in new technologies and better policies to protect against attacks.
In 2018, the City of Atlanta was targeted by hackers, and for nearly a week residents could not pay their water bills or traffic tickets online, police officers had to write and submit warrants by hand, and travelers to the world’s busiest airport had no access to free WiFi.
A year earlier, hackers breached the emergency management system for the City of Dallas and set off tornado sirens. These weren’t catastrophes, but the breach did portend serious challenges to come. That’s because clever bands of hackers know that local governments don’t have formal cybersecurity policies—and few employ enough trained experts to safeguard systems and train employees on how to avoid attacks.
There is a significant talent shortage—those who have the right skills set and experience tend to take much higher-paying jobs in the private sector. As a result, cities will need to carve out enough budget to pay for staff. Another avenue being tested in some cities is public private partnerships. They’ll need to do it quickly. cybercrime won’t wait for local city and town budgets to pass, FTI says.