The Time for Cities to Get Smart Is Now
- January 22, 2019
Unprecedented urbanization is compelling cities to fundamentally reimagine and transform for the future – and fast. According to the 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, roughly half of the world’s population lives in cities today and that figure is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.
You don’t have to be a city planner to imagine the impact of urbanization on infrastructure, systems and resources. There are undoubtedly risks – increased pollution, poverty, crime and cost of living, among others. But cities that take steps now to get smart and prepare can make way for economic growth, efficiency and a better quality of life for citizens.
From my vantage point as a leader in the technology industry, I am seeing more and more state and local governments take a proactive approach to growth. They are adopting and executing smart city strategies to digitally transform for a future that looks very different from today. And they are increasingly bringing other stakeholders to the table, like citizens, data scientists and IT practitioners, which is key. As a matter of fact, citizen engagement is critical to the success of smart cities, according to analyst firm Gartner.
Building a smart city involves every aspect of digital, IT, workforce and security transformation.
Many cities worldwide have already started on this journey, transforming their infrastructure and systems to lay the groundwork for 2050 and beyond. For example:
Smart city initiatives can create an opportunity to realize economic growth and development. Importantly, these initiatives enable cities to stay competitive in a world of constant technological evolution, such as 5G mobile networks, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
By taking advantage of new and emerging technology trends and data sciences, cities can manage their growing urban environments to become more livable with safer, cleaner, healthier and more convenient communities; more workable with a modern digital infrastructure that attracts companies, jobs and talent; and more sustainable when powered by clean, renewable energy.
To get there, cities need a digital platform that:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution and urbanization are forcing cities to rethink how they can improve the lives of their citizens now and into the future. Innovators in the public sector who have launched smart city initiatives foresaw the opportunities created by these changes and they are taking action.
There is still time for those cities that are lagging behind, but the clock is ticking. As Alan Lakein, one of the most well-known time-management experts, said: “Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.” The opportunity is huge and the time is now.
Article originally published as part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, January 8, 2019.