Around the world, cities are becoming smarter thanks to sensors providing wide-ranging data on everything from traffic movements and street lights to energy consumption and pollution.
The potential of this ‘big data’ to improve community quality of life while making essential infrastructure more efficient and sustainable is overcoming lingering fears about the costs of smart city solutions, according to Black & Veatch.
The engineering consultancy’s latest report, 2018 Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities, says that “bold advances” in data analytics, electric transportation and next-generation communications systems will propel smart city development. And creative financing strategies are challenging the notion that these projects require massive upfront investments.
“2017 marked an inflection point for smart city initiatives,” said Fred Ellermeier, vice president and managing director of Black & Veatch’s Connected Communities business.
“Data-driven infrastructure pilot programmes continue to demonstrate success while the path for EVs became dramatically clearer. The long-term benefits of a master plan that can account for the way all systems — power, water, transportation, public safety and the communication overlay — work together are undeniable.”
Smart cities still face obstacles, including budget constraints — cited by nearly two-thirds of municipalities. Other barriers include the handling of data: data collection systems are returning information, but cities and utilities struggle to deal with the management, analysis and security of the huge amount of data produced by Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other smart project resources.
“Moving smart city initiatives to the next level will not be easy, especially as community and utility leaders continue to confront a sceptical public,” commented John Chevrette, president of Black & Veatch’s management consulting business. “With planning, support and understanding, combined with vision and collaboration, cities and utilities can achieve their smart city initiatives and ensure a more resilient, sustainable future.”