Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a number which is expected to reach over 70% by 2050. As a result, cities are finding it increasingly difficult to serve and support their citizens. Demographic, environmental, financial and economic forces are inspiring governments to leverage technology and data to make their cities smarter, safer and more sustainable.
The smart city concept is rapidly gaining in popularity, thanks to the ongoing rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT) — the ever-growing number of devices in our personal and professional lives which are online, connected and capable of sharing data. The term ‘smart city’ refers to the segment of the IoT which concerns running our civic and municipal infrastructure and amenities, from road and transport systems to waste collection and power distribution. Leading the effort in smart, safe and sustainable innovation are cities like Dubai, Singapore, New York, San Francisco, Mexico City and — closer to home — Barcelona, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that no two cities are the same. They all differ in size, location, history, political structure, customs, population, prosperity, weather conditions, … resulting in different needs, different requirements, different problems, different solutions and different visions on what a smart city should look like.
Cities should ask themselves what their purpose is, and what they want to be famous for. Do they want to be a tourist destination, a sustainability leader or something else? What are their priorities? Do they want to have a smart city to help fight crime, improve healthcare or modernize infrastructure? And what unique cultural elements should be built upon?
But if they truly want to become a smart city, they should all have at least one thing in common. No matter what their focus — sustainability, privacy, safety, infrastructure, transportation, citizen participation, you name it — they all need reliable (sensor) data to base their long-term decisions on. Because data is the new gold.
The problem for most cities — with a few obvious exceptions, like Dubai — is money. Cities are very cost-conscious, the financing of smart city initiatives being one of the many stumbling blocks. One of the major obstacles for getting smart city initiatives off the ground is the upfront cost of populating the town with sufficient sensors to be meaningful, but thanks to sensor data marketplaces like DataBroker DAO this problem will soon be history.
The beauty of it all is that the system works both ways, as smart cities can benefit from both sides of the marketplace! They can either sell the data of existing sensors on the DataBroker DAO marketplace, turning what is today a sunk cost and a perpetual maintenance expense into an investment, with a 2–3 year payback period and a continuous revenue stream after that. Or they can buy real-time sensor data on the marketplace — coming from insurance companies, car manufacturers, mobility apps, telecom providers, … the list goes on — only paying for the data they really need instead of having to install these sensors themselves. And in both cases, it is the city — and its citizens — who will ultimately reap the benefits!
Smart City Expo World Conference
An important event for us to be present is the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona from 13 to 15 November. As the world’s leading event for cities, Smart City Expo World Congress provides a unique meeting spot for smart city sectors and an innovative platform for urban action worldwide. Should you be attending, don’t hesitate to pay us a visit at the Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) booth at the Fira de Barcelona. We’d be happy to meet you.
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