by Staff Reports • @IBMinsights

As the connected world takes shape, tech companies can expect rising smart city revenue

Published April 30, 2015


Whether your idea of the future city is one of gleaming ease or smog and crowds, technology is likely an essential aspect of the vision—solving megacity problems or making utopia even more delightful. Tech certainly defines the notion of tomorrow’s cities for many of the largest IT companies in the world.

According to a recent report by Research and Markets, significant opportunities for global wireless carriers exist in smart cities, homes, and solutions in the areas of connected devices, analytics as well as a vast number of applications. The research indicates that a significant majority of Internet of Things applications will occur within metropolitan areas and will ultimately integrate within a smart city ecosystem. The report indicates that up to 15 percent of all carrier revenue will be dependent upon smart cities by 2019. 

Energized by the aspirations of private companies and urban governments, the connectivity concept is emerging anywhere a problem arises in a modern city. The forecasting follows IDC’s predictions that IT spending in the Middle East will reach $32 billion in 2014, and Gartner reports that MENA banking and finance sectors will spend more than $13 billion on technology this year, a 2.7 percent increase over 2013.

To designers in this truly 21st century sector, no aspect of metro living is too glamorous or too messy to be improved by some blend of data, mobile technology, or sensor linking. A Milwaukee consultant told Forbes that sensor-enabled trash cans can provide valuable information for timelier pick up schedules. Forbes described the design: “As pedestrians who have downloaded custom ‘garbage can’ apps on their BLE [Bluetooth low-energy sensor]-capable iPhone or Android devices pass by … the information is collected from the module and relayed to a cloud-hosted service for action—garbage pick-up for brimming cans, in other words.”

All of the tech giants—and many of their small-scale competitors—are designing, testing, or deploying methods and products that can reside in a connected-city model. Dell, EMC, Oracle, and SAP each appear in Research and Markets’ report. Important in this sector, though, is IBM, whose involvement in interconnected city planning reaches from Canada to the Middle East.

According to Research and Markets, smart cities are a focal point for growth drivers in several key areas, including: machine-to-machine/Internet of Things, connected devices, broadband wireless, cloud computing, and analytics. Connected ecosystems are causing many technologies and solutions to integrate with convergence seen across with many resource areas including energy, water, sanitation, and other essential services.

IBM has thrown itself fully into several connected living projects. As reported in Insights Magazine, a prime example of this commitment is project Waterfront Toronto, “a 25-year mandate to transform 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of brownfield lands on the waterfront into beautiful, sustainable mixed-use communities and dynamic public spaces.” Central to this plan is an interconnected network, delivered by IBM and IBM Premier Business Partner Element Blue.

Waterfront Toronto is launching the, a powerful community portal and platform, which includes IBM social collaboration tools that residents can use to easily connect with neighbors, businesses, and service providers in the surrounding area.

The efficiencies hoped for by connectivity are at once simple and considerable. According to Northeast Group, savings begin with a new approach to a city staple—the streetlight. As a release states, “By 2025, LED and smart streetlights around the world will save 97,900 gigawatt hours annually, the equivalent of $12.9 billion in electricity costs per year. Smart street lighting will also pave the way for additional smart city applications such as smart parking meters, environmental sensors and video monitoring," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group.”

Yet the future is dazzling and intricate, too. As covered in Insights Magazine as well, the United Arab Emirates has launched a smart government initiative that includes a “Mobile Wallet,” a device-payment banking system. According to Arabian Business, this effort “has identified more than 90 services provided by government departments requiring payment, and the Mobile Wallet has been designed to allow these to be made from a purpose-designed platform that interfaces with all banks operating in the UAE.”

The UAE is also planning a $299 million connected city project called Silicon Park. The community, with 20,000 square meters of residential space and set for completion in 2017, will include electric car transit, robotic services, smart app access, and renewable energy sources.



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