The Tech-Enabled Building Blocks of Smarter Cities

The Tech-Enabled Building Blocks of Smarter Cities

Snapshot Insights

Snapshot Insights

The cities of the future – and the cities of the present that will be relevant in the future – will be smart. They will be full of sensors, data, and analysis that help the traffic flow, civic leaders lead, and citizens fully realize all the benefits of working and living there. Many of the features of a smart city include technologies to improve sustainability, efficiency and resource allocation. 

In today’s digital age, becoming a smart city is vital for attracting business, residents, tourists, and talent, and for ultimately fostering growth and prosperity. Cities that undergo smart transformation unlock benefits that can be then reinvested into additional developments, creating a virtuous cycle of economic growth. But the path to a smart city is often unclear to leaders.

To provide cities with a more effective roadmap, ESI ThoughtLab teamed up with a coalition of organizations with urban and technology expertise to conduct research into the impact of smart city solutions on urban performance. Among them is Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and its Director Ben Pring, who in the Smarter Cities 2025 white paper says that: 

“In the age of the smart city, ‘architecture’ doesn’t just mean physical buildings anymore—it means the ‘technology architecture’ that will tie together and optimize the myriad different ‘smart’ initiatives cities will need to make to stay attractive to new waves of citizens. Cities of the future will have ‘operating systems’ that tie the physical and digital together.” 

What are the technology-enabled building blocks that make a city smarter then? According to the white paper, the core is about this: 

  • Smart mobility. Smart cities are driving improved transport solutions by pioneering transportation innovations such as ride-sharing, bike- and car-sharing, smart transit systems, real-time transit mobile apps, smart traffic signals and smart parking. 
  • Smart environment. Improving environmental sustainability, energy use, and resource allocation through innovative solutions is their number one challenge, according to our survey of 136 government leaders. Climate change, a related issue, was ranked third. However, climate change becomes a higher priority for cities as they mature and work through more basic environmental and energy management issues. 
  • Smart public safety. Low crime rates in your office location are vital to attract and retain talent. Fortunately, 45% of smart cities view reducing crime rates and improving public safety as a core issue. Technologies they are exploring to deliver on this include big data and AI, predictive policing, drones, acoustic sensors, body cameras, and smart street signals and sensors.
  • Smart public health. Smart cities are working with healthcare providers to promote the use of latest technologies, such as wearable sensors that monitor an individual’s physical activity and health, telemedicine that allows doctors to treat patients remotely, and street sensors that track air quality and pollution.
  • Smart payment systems. Digital payment systems—including debit/credit cards, electronic bill payment and mobile apps—eliminate the need for cash, enabling businesses and residents to maximize the value from smart city solutions. More intensive use of smart payments will help business reduce costs and can have significant benefits for government, improving transparency for stakeholders and enabling government to strengthen financial controls, minimize fraud, and increase revenue.

To accomplish all this, cities will need fast and reliable fixed and mobile broadband, public WiFi, citywide data platforms, and shared and scalable IT architecture, as well as the processes and standards to support smart initiatives. To learn more, check out this interactive eBook.