Smart Cities Technology: Opportunities for Midsized Vendors

May 21, 2017

The term ‘smart city’ is becoming familiar around the world as urban areas realize that a great deal of benefit can come from connecting physical and digital worlds to better serve the needs of citizens and the administration of the city. A smart city doesn’t just result from changes in infrastructure and technologies – it must embody new ways of thinking and planning.

And smart cities aren’t just limited to large metropolitan areas. Many midsized cities need smart city technologies to better manage growth and provide quality of life and work for their citizens. Just like large metros, many midsized cities want to ensure the sustainability of resources and services, by using technologies and digital systems to improve operations and efficiencies, and to innovate how cities and citizens interact.

At the core of smart cities is the Internet of Things (IoT) – where many systems and networks interact with each other and often run without human intervention. The Internet of Things for the smart city can include not only municipal systems, but machine-generated data created by citizen-owned items such as home environment management devices, smart appliances and vehicle sensors.

With midsized cities pursuing smart city strategies, opportunities are quite promising for midsized technology companies to help these cities realize their plans. Cutting edge and forward-looking initiatives – using the latest technologies – are often thought to be the domain of large vendors working with large cities. But many midsized and smaller cities need and want to take advantage of similar technologies and capabilities to operate more effectively. Often smaller technology vendors are the better choice as a strategic partner for midsized smart city projects that are frequently implemented incrementally and at lesser scale.

The market for smart city technology solutions is still very young and in formative stages, which means there’s plenty of room for midsized companies to enter this solution space. Midsized technology vendors who fully understand the needs, desires and challenges that midsized cities have for smart city initiatives will find success in this market. Part of meeting midsized needs includes in-depth understanding of what will work for the people in these cities. So the right solutions aren’t just about technologies but must have a strong focus on the sociology of living in a smart city today and into the future.

Midsized Smart Cities Need Big Data Analytics

One important technology solution area for midsized smart cities: big data analytics for the volumes of data created every day by city systems. This data increases exponentially as more smart city technologies are implemented. Technologies for transportation, utilities, communications, and many other aspects of urban life are evolving faster than overall management strategies. All cities lag on fully gaining advantage and innovative benefit from this information.

Big data analytics technologies are continuously evolving to better collect, integrate, process, and analyze this highly disparate information to both improve the systems of the smart city and to apply results to other needs and opportunities. Midsized technology companies have new ways to deliver cost-effective services and solutions through cloud platforms, lower priced data analytics tools, and mobile applications.

As a solution example, midsized technology vendors could provide services for midsized cities for the continuous data analytics needed to govern and improve urban transportation:

  • Real-time operational responsiveness
  • Personalized interactions with citizens using transportation systems
  • Creating new services and changes to policy more quickly and accurately
  • Measuring the effectiveness of current decisions and actions

Such services and solutions should be tailored for midsized cities to keep costs down and provide exactly what these cities need for faster, more effective implementations. Understanding future direction will help midsized technology vendors build in the right scalability, usability and interoperability capabilities to keep smart cities continuously smart in real time.

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