Analyst Report: Key technologies for the future of the smart city


Over 50 percent of the human population now lives in cities, and those cities are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the real challenges of mass urbanization still lie ahead of us: By 2050, the global urban population will have grown by roughly another 3 billion, and 70 percent of the world will be living in cities.

The smart city can be defined as the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being and economic development. It offers a coherent vision for bringing together innovative solutions that address the issues facing the modern city, but there are many challenges still to be faced. The biggest test for the smart-city concept over the next decade will be to show that innovative projects can be deployed at a citywide scale and are also replicable across cities.

This report examines smart-city developments around the world and provides a model for understanding the relationship between smart-city goals and enabling technologies. The report examines five key technology sectors that are enabling the smart city and are also being shaped by the requirements of this emerging market: smart grids, smart transport, smart water and waste management, smart building systems, and the enabling ICT platforms for the smart city. The report also looks at the strategies of key players in the smart-city market including IT companies, telcos, utilities, infrastructure providers and real estate developers.

Urbanization is key to the development of the world’s poorer economies, yet 32 percent of the developing world’s urban population lives in slums. In the developed world, too, cities are at the forefront of the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to change patterns of energy use. The concept of the smart city offers a potential solution to the question of how to balance environmental concerns, economic requirements and the need to provide for the well-being of the population as a whole.

As the smart city opens up new types of services and looks to address new technical, environmental and economic challenges, all stakeholders need to reconsider their roles and how those impact their business models, modes of operation and partnering strategies.

The next 10 years will see over $100 billion spent on technologies to support smart-city development worldwide. By 2020, the annual spend on those core technologies will be almost $16 billion. By the end of the decade, many of the enabling technologies for smart cities will be deployed across the globe. Once in place, this smart-city infrastructure will provide the basis for a wide range of innovative applications and services.

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The rise of the smart city
    1. What is a smart city?
    2. Smart-city technologies
    3. Market opportunity
  3. The technology foundations of the smart city
    1. The city and the cloud
    2. Big data and open data
    3. Smart cities and smart grids
    4. Smart water and waste-management systems
    5. Smart transportation systems
    6. Smart building systems
  4. Conclusion and recommendations
    1. Recommendations for stakeholders and key players
  5. Acronym and abbreviation list
  6. About Eric Woods
  7. About GigaOM Pro
  8. Further reading

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