Imagine you’re heading to work on a cold winter day. You step outside your perfectly climate-controlled home and your self-driving car pulls up to the curb as scheduled. You enter the car from the extra-wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalk. The car warns you there is ice on your standard route that has slowed traffic considerably. Using data culled by sensors embedded in roadways, shared by other commuters and analyzed by your local transportation department, it offers several other route recommendations.
Smart cities are the urban landscapes of the future. Powered by the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities collect data on a variety of factors – from pollution to traffic – and employ that data to make cities safer and more sustainable. By 2050, the majority of the world will be living in cities – now is the time to lay the groundwork for smart building and infrastructure.
According to Consumer Technology Association’s The Evolution of Smart Cities and Connect Communities Study, the smart city market, valued at $14.85 billion in 2015, is expected to hit $34.35 billion by 2020. Many cities have chief technology officers and innovation offices that are implementing smart city technologies. Business leaders should engage with these leaders who have a vision and understanding of their local needs.
Here are three reasons why business leaders should take advantage of this key moment in smart city development:
Having a say in rules and implementation. City rules shape how energy is used and how buildings are designed. As digital infrastructure evolves, the rules that govern it will become only more complex.
Ultimately, the needs of a city’s workers, employers and residents ought to shape how a city develops. But too frequently, poor communication between the public and private sectors prevents this. Companies that will eventually be affected must start weighing in on policy and planning now.
Getting ahead of the curve on innovative business strategies. Disruptive companies such as Uber, Lyft , Expedia and Airbnb have already started to do this by employing technology to meet local transportation and lodging needs. With the rise of smart cities, more companies will have the opportunity to develop these kinds of game-changing strategies. Retailers, restaurants and other service providers can use real-time data to analyze likely consumer choices and adjust pricing accordingly.
Five years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine Airbnb’s experience market or Amazon’s drone delivery. But with smart cities, the companies that dream the biggest for the future will get the best returns.
Drawing top talent and driving competition. It’s no secret that drawing the best and brightest to a company isn’t just a matter of compensation. The workers who will add the most value over the longer term want to live and work in places that offer them affordable, sustainable housing, timely and safe transportation and a clean and pleasant atmosphere.
CTA’s third-annual Innovation Scorecard evaluated the 50 U.S. states based on innovation-friendliness – incorporating factors such as undergraduates earning STEM degrees and laws governing emerging new technologies. According to the report, states that are modernizing their laws to ensure startups have access to capital, minimal red tape and other low barriers to entry are succeeding in attracting top talent.
The more we invest in smart cities, the more likely businesses will be able to draw the people they need to succeed. It also spurs competition: smart cities will allow for reduced spending on operations, transportation and communications to refocus on developing and marketing services or products.
Smart cities are best positioned to accommodate growing populations, cut down on traffic, provide water and energy efficiency improvements, reduce infrastructure expenses, modernize public transportation, and provide everyone a greater standard of living. It’s time for city planners, state and local governments and business leaders to more fully embrace technology that is changing our lives for the better and develop the smart cities of the future.
(Top image: Courtesy Getty Images.)
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro
All views expressed are those of the author.