Reality Check: Smart city and IoT technology enabling the future

Internet of things technology as a key enabler

One thing is certain: technology is going to be the enabler of this massive transition. Singapore’s electronic road pricing program – the descendent of a traffic congestion management program first introduced in 1975 – has significantly reduced traffic volumes, collisions and automobile-sourced pollution emissions. In California, the state department of transportation launched in 2016 a technology heavy SMART corridor project for the oversubscribed eight-mile stretch of Interstate 80 leading into San Francisco, anticipating a reduction in collisions and commuter travel time.

Tech giants such as Google, IBM, Cisco and Intel have all launched smart city initiatives or platforms designed to aggregate, process and make sense of the data municipal devices and physical plants generate. Grand View Research has predicted a global smart cities market of $1.4 trillion by 2020. McKinsey estimates that just 600 cities account for 60% of global gross domestic product.

Critics have suggested that the proliferation of electronic IoT devices will increase energy demands, further stressing the environment. But the overwhelming evidence is that smart cities will more than pay for themselves environmentally through better management of resources such as energy and water and reduced pollutants emissions.