Singapore, London and Barcelona have today been named as the world’s best smart cities in a report which highlights the drivers and hurdles faced by local authorities considering implementing a smart city programme.
And the study – from Philips Lighting – highlights that the potential rewards from such a programme are high: it cites Barcelona as having created an estimated 47,000 jobs through the implementation of Internet of Things systems, saved €42.5 million on water and generated an extra €36.5 million a year through smart parking.
However, the report adds that while one in 10 local authority representatives stated that they did not have the capacity to look at developing a smart city programme, they are also being held back by budget limitations, a lack of infrastructure, short term planning and a lack of leadership on implementation.
The most common inhibiting factors are budget limitations (23 per cent) and the need for more supporting infrastructure (19 per cent), demonstrating that securing investment in smart city projects is no easy task.
But the report suggests that projects that deliver short-term gains as well as providing infrastructure for the long-term can overcome these issues, such as telco-integrated street lighting in San Jose and smart LED streetlights in Los Angeles, which deliver annual cost savings of $9 million and will repay the upfront cost within seven years.
Indeed, the report reveals that it is not uncommon for a city to spend half of its energy budget on street lighting. Philips says that implementing smart lighting technology not only reduces energy consumption, it has also been seen to lower crime rates, support local businesses as well as create a more aesthetically pleasing environment for city dwellers. This is in addition to the cost and environmental benefits.
Philips says that “realizing the benefits of smart cities is essential. Cities consume 70 per cent of the world’s energy and by 2050 urban areas are set to be home to 6.5 billion people worldwide, 2.5 billion more than today. For cities to remain fit for purpose as the demand on occupancy and energy increases, local authorities must tackle difficult areas including technology, communications, data security and energy usage.”
Jacques Letzelter, Segment Manager at Philips Lighting, said: “City authorities face complex and challenging choices concerning infrastructure, balancing the need to maintain existing services while investing in improvements, managing population growth and enhancing sustainability – all within tight budget constraints.
“New technologies can already transform the way cities deliver, operate and maintain public amenities, from lighting and transportation to connectivity and health services. Often, however, adoption is slowed by the division of work and the selection of technology that doesn’t easily work together or integrate with other city services. Fortunately, there are many successful examples of smart city projects that prove these obstacles can be overcome, with the right collaborative approach and integration technologies. These projects show that smart cities can bring about better lives and enhanced safety for their citizens.”
The report discusses the key role that the IoT has to play in delivering smart city success. Revolutionizing the collection of data (35 per cent), revolutionizing communication for accurate service delivery (15 per cent) and managing the strain on urban resources (13 per cent) were ranked as the top three areas where the IoT would be most effective in cities. However, the report notes that the implementation of new technologies and a smart city program is different for each city.
The top three smart cities were all noted for very different strengths in their smart city programmes. Singapore was praised for its forward-thinking infrastructure including its buildings, transportation and use of underground space. London was commended for its focus on communities when implementing technology. One respondent described London as “a honey pot of technologies and partnerships.” Barcelona was noted for its top-level government driving change.
Andreas Knobloch, Alliance Specialist at Philips Lighting, explained: “Collaboration is key. For cities to truly benefit from the potential that smart cities offer, a change in mindset is required where local authorities plan longer and across multiple departments.”
“We must think of city-wide systems as one ecosystem working together. At the same time, we all - technologists, local governments, businesses, environmentalists and the general public - must help to build the investment case to enable cities to successfully implement smart city programmes.”