KEY POINTS

  • Smart cities are cities with connected infrastructure that integrate, analyze, and act on data from a variety of different IoT devices. Few cities around the world have actually grown into truly "smart" cities, but as more cities address global barriers — such as budgetary constraints and cybersecurity concerns — the market is beginning to accelerate.
  • Unique societal challenges and market drivers are shaping the ways that cities in different parts of the world are using these technologies. Smart-city technology providers need to be aware of the unique characteristics that are driving different regions to favor different types of smart cities projects and solutions.
  • Europe is the most highly developed region of the world in terms of smart cities. Several of the world’s most advanced smart cities are located on the continent, and the EU’s aggressive targets for fossil fuel emissions cuts are spurring further smart-city development there.
  • Central and South America’s cities are investing in smart transportation in response to high rates of urbanization and underdeveloped transportation infrastructures. About 80% of these regions' populations live in cities, according to the United Nations, and that percentage is expected to rise to 90% by 2050. 
  • North American cities have been slow to adopt smart-city solutions compared with Europe and Asia. However, increased funding from the US and Canadian national governments for smart cities and new infrastructure indicate that the market is set to take off in the next few years.
  • Africa lags the rest of the world in smart-city development because of the region’s lack of internet networking infrastructure. However, this gives the region the chance to quickly roll out the latest internet networking technologies like low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) and, eventually, 5G networks because they don’t have to upgrade existing infrastructure. 
  • National governments in Asia, and particularly in China, are spending massive amounts on new infrastructure. As big as many cities in Asia have grown, only 47% of the continent’s population was urban as of 2014, so there's still a great deal of room for that share to rise. This means that cities in Asia are facing enormous pressure to adopt smart-city technologies to reduce pollution and overcrowding.

Introduction

Smart cities are cities that leverage IoT devices like connected sensors, lights, and meters to gather and analyze data. This data provides insights on infrastructure, [...]