Smart city market to top $108 billion by 2020
For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas and this population shift is changing the face of the world. As urban populations grow even faster, "smart" information and communication technologies will be a vital part of maintaining the efficiency of bursting mega-cities.
A new report from Pike Research forecasts that investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total USD108 billion from 2010 to 2020. By the end of that period, the cleantech market intelligence firm anticipates that annual spending will reach nearly USD16 billion.
"Smart city models are at a nascent stage, and smart cities will take many different forms in different parts of the world," says Pike senior analyst Eric Woods. "Pilot projects are under-way that could provide templates for the design of new urban centers in Asia and the Middle East, as well as frameworks for overlaying infrastructure to make older cities smarter in Europe and North America.
"However, today there is still no example of a smart city that is supporting hundreds of thousands, never mind millions, of people and there are many challenges still to be faced by smart city planners."
China, however, is home to some of the world's biggest mega cities and is facing a host of issues related to the uncontrolled growth of its urban populations, arguably has a lot to gain from smart cities, and is taking a keen interest in their development.
The Chinese government has invested billions of dollars toward regional infrastructure, referred to as the Beijing-Tianjin Growth Corridor, in expectation of an anticipated rise of nearly 300 million people from poverty to middle class over the next 20 years. The country now has about 666 million people living in cities.
Australia, meanwhile, appears to be taking a leading position in various smart city initiatives, perhaps because the country is relatively energy-efficient by international standards, well developed and using a mix of alternative and traditional energy sources.
So it was of little surprise when former Australian Prime Minister John Howard unveiled planes for for a new smart city south of Beijing last week.
China mega projects
The China joint venture, the SunWorth Development Group, project is located Langfang, Hebei province. The 30 square kilometre development will feature a theme park and an exhibition centre, designed to be the world's largest with over 1.3 million square metres. Green space will flow throughout the development and there will be restrictions on gasoline powered vehicles, according to the developers.
Speaking at the China Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting, Mr Howard said, "I am very pleased that Langfang is taking a leadership position in developing smart city technology. This is an outstanding opportunity to build a new city from the ground-up with wired and eco-green technology that will pave the way for cities of the future around the world
Pike Research defines a smart city as the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being, and economic development. Any adequate model for the smart city must be multi-dimensional, encompassing different aspects of "smartness" and stressing the importance of integration and interaction across multiple domains.