If you work in a major US city such as San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago or Los Angeles, chances are that your average commute time is 90 minutes one-way and three hours round trip per day. A 2013 study noted that drivers in London spend an average of 20 minutes looking for parking. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that Hong Kong will be one of 10 global financial centers participating in a clean air and health initiative to be launched later this year.
With aging infrastructure, increased traffic congestion and intense focus on energy efficiency, smart cities have not only emerged as the tech buzzword du jour, they have become a path forward for municipal leaders in collaboration with innovators and service providers in the private and public sector.
“By 2040, estimates show that 70 percent of the world’s population will not only work in major metropolitan areas, but also live in them,” said Mark Bartolomeo, head of Connected Solutions at Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “With the help of machine-to-machine technology coupled with cloud and security solutions, we’re going to see more solutions that alert drivers about traffic congestion, predict the availability of parking spaces, provide utility companies with data and analytics on supply and demand for water and power, or notify rail operators on speeds and other conditions needed to optimize trips safely.”
As legacy infrastructure only continues to age combined with a more mobile workforce and society, the global push for smart cities almost seems like a no brainer, but significant barriers remain.
“The biggest impediment for smart cities today is funding. In the US, many municipalities are not set up to incur the level of cost that a full smart city implementation would require at scale without substantial resources both from the Federal government and the private sector. While some inroads have been made, many projects have not moved past proof of concept and they’re not ubiquitous to all US cities. Even if one project succeeds it’s very difficult to generate and sustain momentum nationally,” Bartolomeo adds.
Bartolomeo acknowledges that initiatives such as smart parking are typically among the first to be implemented because the time to revenue is relatively fast and it’s a proven model. On the other hand, initiatives that aim to tackle macro environmental issues such as pollution or require major investments to existing infrastructure such as highways, subway systems and railroads will take years.
“At the end of the day, realizing the full potential of smart cities is not about a good marketing campaign and a bunch of sensors strapped to a bunch of machines. It will not be solved by one elected official , one sector, one government agency, one university or one tech company. Instead, the path forward will require full collaboration across the board and on a global scale,” he concluded.
For more information on Verizon’s Connected Solutions, click here.