PHILADELPHIA, PA — ESI ThoughtLab has released the key findings from its Building a Hyperconnected City program, which shows how cities can go beyond current smart solutions to become hyperconnected hubs generating economic, social, and environmental benefits by linking key elements of their urban landscape including transportation, public health, energy, water, security and sustainability.
The survey, a year-long global study co-sponsored by Stantec and other industry partners, included 100 metro centres using technology to improve, connect and secure areas of their urban ecosystem.
Cities surveyed reported that they will spend $141 billion on smart city projects in 2019, which is an average investment of $1.4 billion per city.
That investment is projected to rise an average of 14 per cent over the next year, the larger portion of which will come from more advanced cities, who will increase their investments by 21 per cent, indicates a release.
Central to Building a Hyperconnected City is a roadmap on how to manage urban digital innovation, maximize return on investment (ROI) in new technologies and ensure benefits reach the business community and citizens.
The roadmap compiles practices followed by cities more advanced in project deployment and ROI, which can be adopted by cities at all stages of hyperconnectivity:
- Start with an evidence-based business case and continuously monitor performance in order to calculate ROI.
- Calculate the full benefits of investment including social, business, economic and environmental payoffs.
- Organize resources effectively within a centralized department and draw on both internal and external staff to operate hyperconnected city programs.
- Create a structure such as an innovation hub to capitalize on technological advancements and prioritize cybersecurity.
- Use the industry ecosystem effectively by partnering with business and academic communities but keep crucial development and implementation tasks in-house.
- Generate more value from data by working with business and other partners, making it accessible to citizens and stakeholders, and guiding data management with well-planned policies.
- Ensure citizen engagement by enabling input and two-way communication and prioritize reaching out to disadvantaged populations.
The report said becoming more connected yields benefits across the urban ecosystem.
For example, the research revealed that using technology to interlink different areas of public transit programs increases passenger satisfaction by 38 per cent, on-time arrival by 33 per cent and transit ridership by 29 per cent, states the release.
Cities also reported a number of challenges to become hyperconnected including uncertainty among citizens and other stakeholders wary of new technologies in the urban environment.
According to the study, cities like Barcelona and Stockholm alleviate this through effective communication and outreach to build citizen trust and engagement.
Another hurdle is funding for smart initiatives but there are both public and private solutions available that other cities around the world have adopted.
“These research findings are in line with what we are hearing from cities across the world,” said Nancy MacDonald, Stantec’s smart cities lead, in a statement.
“Cities are trying to understand the benefits of becoming more connected, looking to build on previous successes, and want to make sure investments maximize benefits to their communities. The roadmap outlined in this report is a helpful guide based on real-world experience from cities on the forefront of becoming hyperconnected.”