Smart city study shows benefits of technology investment

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A new study has found smart city initiatives provide significant economic and social benefits for residents and municipal authorities.

The ‘Building a Hyperconnected City’ smart city study, conducted by research and analysis firm ESI ThoughtLab through its 2019 Smart City Research Initiative, examined smart city programmes in 100 cities to determine their tangible benefits and potential risks. The study’s preliminary findings showed a substantial return on investment (ROI) in terms of user satisfaction, public health and financial gain – although the researchers noted that the increasingly widespread deployment of new and emerging technologies has left cities potentially vulnerable to cybercrime, with the cities surveyed reporting an average of $3.4m (€3.11m) in ‘cyber-losses’ last year and more than half saying they were ‘not well prepared’ for cyberattacks.

The smart city study found that of the cities surveyed, 38% reported a rise in customer satisfaction after implementing smart mobility programmes; while 45% of cities which has deployed smart environmental or energy initiatives reported improved levels of citizen health and 44% said they had reduced pollution levels. All the smart city initiatives investigated in the study, apart from predictive policing, demonstrated a positive return on investment; with the highest economic benefits shown by:

  • Online first aid alerts, with average gains of 5.6%;
  • Digital business licensing, showing gains of 5%;
  • Dynamic electricity pricing, with gains of 4.8%;
  • Gunshot sensors, which also provided gains of 4.8%; and
  • Real time crime mapping, with gains of 4.7%.

Lou Celi, CEO of ESI ThoughtLab and director of the study, said: “Our research shows that hyperconnected cities—ones that use technology to transform and interconnect their urban assets—generate demonstrable ROI for their economies, while providing enormous improvements in living and business conditions.”

ESI ThoughtLab will present the full findings of its smart city study at the Smart City Expo World Congress, to be held in Barcelona in November.

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