Smart City Initiatives Can Improve Living Standards, Reduce Carbon Emissions

September 29, 2011

In the next 20 years, the world population will grow from 6.9 billion to 8.3 billion people.  The urban population will grow even faster, from 3.5 billion to 5.0 billion.  For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas.  The social, economic, environmental, and engineering challenges of this transformation will largely define the 21st century.  Cities are responsible for between 60% and 80% of the world’s energy use and about the same percentage of greenhouse gas emissions.  According to a recent report from Pike Research, “smart” information and communication technologies that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of urban systems and services will not only help mitigate the environmental effects of mass urbanization, but also improve the lives of the people who inhabit the world’s burgeoning cities.

Cities are the focus for new approaches to energy efficiency, building design, transportation, waste management, and energy use.  Huge investments will be required to implement these approaches.  Pike Research forecasts that investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total $108 billion during the years from 2010 to 2020.  By the end of that period, the cleantech market intelligence firm anticipates that annual spending will reach nearly $16 billion.

“Information and communications – particularly ubiquitous broadband Internet access – are vital elements in any definition of the smart city,” says senior analyst Eric Woods.  “But a city only becomes smart if it can make use of these capabilities to deliver real-time services based on the capture of information.”

Pike Research defines a smart city as the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being, and economic development.  Models for smart urban design differ widely between regions, though, from the ancient inner cities of many European cities, to the urban and suburban sprawl found in the United States, to the rapid rise of dense urban areas in Asia, particularly in China.  Similarly, no single technology defines the smart city – although a number of iconic technologies can be highlighted as key components of the smart city vision.  Among them are ubiquitous broadband, smart meters for electricity and water use, intelligent transport systems, and extensively deployed monitoring and sensor technologies.

Pike Research’s report, “Smart Cities”, examines smart city developments around the world, along with an assessment of the market opportunity for smart city technologies in the decade ahead.  The study analyzes the impact of the smart city on key technology markets including smart utilities, smart transport, smart buildings, and smart government.  It forecasts the size and growth of the market for smart city technologies through 2020 and the growth in each of the key smart city industry sectors and the main regional markets.  The report also looks at the strategies of key players in the smart city market including IT companies, telecommunications companies, utilities, infrastructure providers, and real estate developers.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.  The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors.  For more information, visit or call +1.303.997.7609.

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