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‘Smart Cities 2.0’ becoming a reality, according to new report

According to the new analysis, there are 355 live smart city projects in 221 cities across the globe, with almost one in five cutting across multiple industry sectors. As a result, it says, the total global smart cities market will more than double in the next decade, from $40.1bn in 2017 to $94.2bn by the end of 2026 – a CAGR of 9.9%.

Navigant’s smart city tracker reveals that cross-sector projects are appearing for the first time, suggesting that some of the technological and cultural challenges of project interoperability are finally being addressed. Around 70 projects (18%) are current multi-sector deployments, with the report authors arguing that this “represents the first decisive step towards properly-intelligent ‘smart cities’, where city operations are inter-connected and entirely focused on sustainability. This new phase is sometimes dubbed ‘smart cities 2.0’.”

It’s been long anticipated by us. We’ve been concerned for some time that there is a risk in creating silos that address the needs of specific projects, but which do not provide the foundations to support additional needs from the same platform. Cross-sector realisation is an important step towards the convergence necessary.

On a regional basis, Europe is leading globally in terms of the number of smart city projects being pursued and the depth of multi-sector project integration, but North America is catching up with 55 new projects in cities in the US and Canada starting up since the start of 2017. Steady progress is also being seen in Asia Pacific, Latin America, and EMEA, it adds.

Street lighting is considered the ‘entry point’, providing a platform to hang parallel smart city projects from, including environmental monitoring, security monitoring and traffic management. Other areas identified by the research include smart parking systems, mobility solutions, air quality monitoring, and smart waste, but use cases also cover open data platforms, smart grid, mobility, and energy efficiency, among others.

A second report, meanwhile, ranks Cisco and Siemens as the first and second top smart city providers, respectively. Huawei is ranked sixth, while Ericsson comes in at ninth. The full list comprises:

1. Cisco
2. Siemens
3. Microsoft
4. IBM
5. Hitachi
6. Huawei
7. SAP
8. Panasonic
9. Ericsson
10. GE

The providers are ranked according to the report as they have “distinguished themselves with their continuing drive to define and develop expansive use cases, as well as with their focus on technical solutions and open partnerships. They are looking to understand more deeply what cities require, and what they will require in the future, and are working with a broad ecosystem of partners to shape the market.”

Interestingly, the report makes special mention of Nokia, stating: “Nokia, notably, does not even register in the long list, despite the appearance of Huawei and Ericsson, its traditional rivals in the traditional telecoms market.”

While the report is an interesting update on the evolution of smart cities, it is also a good guide for how telecoms providers might approach the market, as they look to find new revenue streams within the smart city, IoT and even autonomous vehicle space.

The report echoes what we have been saying for some time that the telecoms industry needs to change its traditional attitude towards partnerships. Rather than acting alone, those providers that are looking to be prominent players in the smart city environment must focus on creating an open and broad ecosystem of partners and to engage with a more diverse set of stakeholders, rather than the traditional telco partners. Whether the industry is capable of changing such an ingrained mindset remains to be seen.