The smart city movement within major city areas has been heavily broadcasted for quite some time now. However, a recent survey of 54 American cities, conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and IHS Markit, has uncovered hidden trends within the Smart City movement. The study discovered that middle and small cities are the true technological hotspots, and not the largely developed urban areas. Of the +350 smart city projects underway, 168 of them are occurring in mid-size cities, while 98 are in small cities, and only 69 are being implemented in large metropolis areas. Furthermore, of the 459 projects set up for the future, the mid-size and small cities will still dominate with 225 and 131 of those projects, respectively. This is in comparison to the 103 projects planned for large cities. Not only do these numbers emphasize the sheer amount of projects happening; but they exploit the fact that mid-size and small cities are the true destinations for technological investment and growth. Another misconception is the notion that “smart technology” references only a limited spectrum of devices such as advanced LED lights, or connected kiosk. But this is not the case. In fact, governance projects are the leading category with 86 ventures, followed by a 74 project count coming from mobility and transportation, leaving physical infrastructure in third with 59. These numbers reflect the growing demand for improved government responsiveness as well as overall quality of life.
This is interesting. Everyone “knows” that the large technological innovations are happening in Silicon Valley. And if any place is going to become a “smart city”–with self driving cars everywhere, connected and optimized traffic lights, and high speed tube transportation–all while being completely run on solar and wind energy, it’s obviously going to be Silicon Valley. Where else could it be? Well its seems there are several small to mid-size cities that could answer that question. According to this study, mid-size cities have been flying under the radar with their technological progress. In fact mid-size cities dominate the smart city industry. Of the +350 current smart city projects, mid-size cities are responsible for 168 of them. And of the 459 planned projects–mid-size cities once again top off at 225 of them. These numbers are much greater than the 69 and 103 projects large cities have and will have under their belt. Goes to show the shift of technological focal points in the world. Then, to break down the situation even further, you can look at what is driving these smart city projects. It seems that smart city tech has created this image of meaning LED lights and/or connected public kiosks only. But that of course is not the case. According to the study, the majority of the projects were driven towards governance improvements. Not as attractive as LED lights but still very important and impactful if done right. After governance, the second strongest force driving these smart city projects is mobility and transportation. This idea more directly affects the public and makes sense that it is high on the list. Same can be said for the last one, physical infrastructure. All three of these factors intertwine and depend on the implementation of smart technology in order to progress.
Contributor: Avery Griffin