The report on challenges and opportunities of smart cities around the world, indicates that Singapore, London and Barcelona are the three smart cities best valued among the respondents.
Singapore, London and Barcelona are the three best smart cities in the world according to a report developed by SmartCitiesWorld and Philips Lighting, which investigates 150 variables that influence city planning around the world. The city of Barcelona stands out for creating more than 47,000 jobs through the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) systems, saving 42.5 million euros in water and generating 36.5 million euros in a year thanks to smart car parks.
The report, entitled “Smart cities: understanding the challenges and opportunities“, describes the main elements that drive and hinder local authorities when implementing a smart city program. The report, which has carried out a survey in which local authorities and professionals from 19 countries and industries such as connectivity, transport, energy, governance or construction, among others, have participated, indicates that visionary leadership is the key factor that can make a biggest difference in the success of smart city programs for 56% of respondents. In the report, SmartCitiesWorld stress the importance of ensuring that each smart city project fits into a coherent long-term strategy and details how cities can overcome their smart city challenges. Perceived obstructions to progress are a lack of capacity and experience to engage in smart city development – budget limitations were a concern shared by 22.7% of respondents. One potential solution, outlined in the report, is to start with smaller IoT projects and pilots that help cities advance towards larger goals in more manageable steps. Another advantage of smaller projects is that securing funding for them can be easier, as there is less risk. Small projects can lead to small successes which could open the door for more significant projects in the long-term, as well as justifying increased future investment.
The report also focuses on the key role that the concept of IoT should play in the success of smart cities. Revolutionizing data collection (35%), transforming communications to provide more precise services (15%) and managing the use of urban resources (13%) were the three main areas identified in which IoT could have greater efficiency in the cities.
Lack of funding
One in ten representatives of local authorities surveyed claim that they do not have the capacity to develop a smart city program. The main hindering factor is marked by budgetary restrictions for 23% of the participants, followed by the need for an infrastructure that provides better support (19%), demonstrating that ensure investment in smart city projects is not a simple task. However, the report indicates that smart city projects can also offer short-term gains and provide long-term infrastructure.
Challenges for local authorities
It should be borne in mind that cities consume more than 70% of the world’s energy supply and, by 2050, urban areas will be home to 6.5 million people worldwide (2.5 billion more than today). In order for cities to be able to offer adequate services and be prepared, “local authorities will have to make complex and difficult decisions related to infrastructure”, considers Jacques Letzelter, segment manager of Philips Lighting.
That is, manage to maintain and improve existing services, control population growth, work for the sustainability of cities, all with a limited budget. In this sense, Letzelter recalls that “new technologies can also change the way in which cities provide, manage and maintain public services, from lighting and transport to connectivity and health services. Frequently, however, its adoption might be slowed down by the division of labour and technological choices that do not work well together or do not integrate with other services in the cities”.
Collaboration and interoperability by way of response
However, there are already many examples of smart city projects which indicate that these problems can be solved “if the correct collaborative approach is adopted and the technologies that are optimally integrated are used”, and it seems that the collaboration between all those involved, including citizens, together with the technology interoperability, are key to developing smart cities.
Regarding the three smart cities best positioned in the report, Singapore stands out for its infrastructure and its vision for the future, including buildings, transport and the use of underground space. London distinguishes itself by focusing on communities when implementing technology. For one of the respondents, London is an “exquisite mixture of technologies and collaboration.” With respect to Barcelona, its exceptional change in government guidelines was highlighted.