IDC predicts 2016 trends for smart cities

Smart city technologies are already transforming government services and making life easier for people who live and work in cities across the world.

Now, with 2015 drawing to a close, IDC has considered how the smart city agenda is likely to change in the coming year. In a new report the research firm sets out its top 10 predictions for 2016, covering topics such as the impact of crowdsourced information on intelligent operations centres, the growth in national policies on smart cities, and the role of the city in the smart home and connected car.

In an article for, Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director of the global Smart Cities Strategies programme at IDC, says that the report’s predictions reveal three particularly interesting trends emerging around the smart cities movement:

1. A growing number of leaders in cities, local councils and central government will become aware of, and start adopting, smart city policies.

IDC anticipates increasing demand for strategy development and implementation road maps, and it predicts that at least 20 of the world’s largest countries will create national smart city policies to prioritise funding and document technical and business guidelines.

2. Wide variation in understanding the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the benefits and challenges associated with new types of mobile and connected things (e.g. drones, wearables, connected cars).

In 2016, nine out of ten cities worldwide will not have a comprehensive set of policies on the public and private use of drones, sensors and other devices — resulting in greater privacy and security risks, Clarke says. At the same time, IDC expects to see faster adoption of public safety and transportation IoT investment, often without a strategic framework. This will lead to more project risk and wasted spending, such as spending on duplicate systems or devices.

3. Cities will address the challenge of how to use information from social media, crowdsourcing and sharing economy companies.

Clarke gives the example of the Waze traffic app, which provides crowdsourced traffic information for commuters. This data, if integrated with municipal transport management systems, could help operators update digital signs more quickly, potentially adjust traffic signals and dispatch responders more quickly. But, the IDC executive notes, getting this information into existing systems is not a simple task.

Over the next year, Clarke suggests, cities should look at smart city initiatives in the context of these challenges, but also as tied to specific outcomes related to future investment.

She advises cities to tie high-level mayoral agendas to specific smart city initiatives, and connect these initiatives with specific measures and outcomes.

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