Dr Peter Harrop, chair at IDTechEx, explains the developments that will be needed to make smart city opportunities a reality.
It was a nerdy idea. The term ‘smart city’ originally meant little beyond using much more information technology. However, a new IDTechEx report, Smart City Opportunities: Infrastructure, Systems, Materials 2019-2029, reveals that much more dramatic changes are both required and possible, and humans will be in the driving seat, demanding and gaining unquantifiable benefits like ‘feeling better’.
The new approach reflects the strong trends towards people living mainly in cities and localism, where caring, empowered communities harness new infrastructure, systems and materials and radically change the way they operate. Examples include ‘silent cities’, banning private cars and providing free public transport. The report reveals how cities will even achieve independence in water, food and energy: they may still import but they can export too and be secure against increasingly violent weather and increasingly risky supply in the meantime. Retailing, transport and buildings are reinvented to achieve no emissions or traffic congestion and far less infrastructure.
Smart City Opportunities: Infrastructure, Systems, Materials 2019-2029 is full of detailed new infograms, roadmaps, forecasts and project comparisons about all this, a business opportunity that dwarfs the original objective. Learn how some infrastructure will vanish, including electric vehicle chargers, power stations and land-grabbing solar and wind farms and giant river dams by cities. Many devices will be used less, including batteries, but many billion dollar businesses will be created from a plethora of new hardware, such as smart windows. Think cognitive self-powered buildings and smart roads that automatically deice and charge moving vehicles using self-generated electricity.
This is a world of nearby wave and tidal power without infrastructure and marine aquaculture, for most of the large cities are on the sea. It embraces aeroponics, hydroponics and other indoor farming. Cities must now defend against cyberattack, but independent systems in houses and buildings will make cyberattacks tougher, and that empowerment means costs will be better controlled and changing needs met more promptly. The report uniquely covers this big picture and the huge range of new materials and systems required. Surprisingly, the report shows how most of these things are happening somewhere in the world already, even buildings with no sewage or electricity service. There are forecasts and technology roadmaps for many of the materials and systems required including internet of things, sensors and radically new forms of IT.
What subjects does the report cover?
The executive summary and conclusions address definitions, technologies, examples and progress so far, including such things as democratisation of artificial intelligence, expansion of mobile platform services, proximity marketing and ubiquitous sensors. Many materials opportunities are identified. The introduction looks at the cities of the world and how they will be reinvented, explaining the digital transformation and the decline of much infrastructure as such things as self-sufficient buildings and energy independent vehicles arrive. Learn what and when and see the pictures of breakthrough products such as solar city cars that never plug in and their launch dates. Chapter three details cognitive and self-powered buildings and roads and chapter four focuses on reinventing last mile delivery of people and things. Wireless connectivity in smart cities is covered in chapter five. See chapter six for convergence of online and physical retailing, chapter seven for smart urban farming and chapter eight for water independence: zero emission desalination and water treatment.
The remarkable report Smart City Opportunities: Infrastructure, Systems, Materials 2019-2029 ends with an extensive chapter nine on key enabling technologies with detailed analysis of materials and systems needed, gaps in the market and routes to multibillion dollar opportunities. Yes, that includes the original ubiquitous sensing and next-generation computing. Once again, the globetrotting PhD-level analysts at IDTechEx have provided exceptionally up to date and insightful analysis invaluable to those seeking to sell systems and materials into a booming market. The report also has much to interest investors, academics, city planners, architects, legislators and others interested in this emerging industry and those seeking to diversify out of saturating markets while redeploying relevant skills, such as electricity utilities, oil and gas companies and car makers. Peak car and peak electricity production are largely down to smart cities. If you cannot beat them, join them!
Dr Peter Harrop