Pike Research has forecasts that investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total $108bn during the years from 2010 to 2020. By the end of the period the annual spending will reach nearly $16bn.
The cleantech market intelligence firm points out that in the next 20 years the world population will grow from 6.9 billion to 8.3 billion people and the urban population will grow even faster. More people now live in cities than in rural areas, so cities are the focus for new approaches to energy efficiency, building design, transportation, waste management and energy use, all requiring large-scale investment.
Pike defines a smart city as ‘the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being and economic development’. There’s no single technology or model that defines a smart city, although some technologies, such as broadband, the use of smart meters and intelligent transport systems, are seen as key.
Pike says that while there are lots of pilot projects and small-scale developments that are looking at the smart city from a holistic perspective, there are no examples yet of a smart city on a large scale. It puts that down to the technical, financial and political hurdles that are yet to be overcome.
The ‘Smart City’ report looks at the impact of the smart city on key technology markets, the strategies of players, and forecasts the size and growth through to 2020, including the key industry sectors and the main regional markets.
Figures on how much money will go into building smart cities in the future vary widely – it very much depends on what you’re counting. But as the ‘smart’ name suggests, an awful lot of it is ICT.
This market really is a huge opportunity for the industry in the coming years, something that IBM, in particular, has recognised - although a lot of the other major IT services companies are also vying for a piece of the action. But the opportunities are pretty diverse, so there’s plenty for all.
As with all major infrastructure opportunities, there’s a lot of partnering going on, since solutions cross technologies and industry sectors. What make’s it even more interesting is that often the technology doesn’t yet exist, at least not in a useable form, so collaboration between ICT players to create the best solution will be even more important.