Equipping bustling metropolises with cutting-edge tech like the Internet of Things (IoT) can be a big money-saving move, according to a new ABI Research study commissioned by InterDigital's smart cities business, Chordant, in partnership with CA Technologies.
Worldwide, smart city technologies can end up saving governments, businesses and inhabitants more than $5 trillion each year by 2022, states the report. Those technologies include the IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and data analytics.
The next five years may also see the rise of so-called "smart mega cities" with populations of around 10 million people. By studying 75 cities that currently have urban populations of more than five million people, ABI Research estimates that the governments operating smart mega cities can each save $4.95 billion a year by 2022, thanks to smart buildings, low-maintenance street lighting and other efficiency-boosting systems.
Enterprises can also benefit by being situated in a smart mega city. Smart factories, driverless trucks, drones and energy-efficient ways of transporting goods and delivering services can save a city's businesses $14 billion a year, predicts the report.
Of course, a city is nothing without its people. And there's some good news for the urbanites of the near future.
Smart meters, micro-grids and other modern approaches to critical infrastructure can help lower utility bills. Education systems that embrace physical and online solutions can also help citizens get the most out of their paychecks. In total, a smart mega city's residents can expect to save $26.69 billion.
"While smart cities technologies offer multiple benefits, very significant direct cost savings represent a key incentive to embrace urban innovation for city governments, citizens and enterprises alike; this allows building stronger business cases with faster ROI [return on investment], facilitating project approval and accelerating deployments," said ABI Research vice president Dominique Bonte, in a Dec. 5 announcement.
Some municipalities already have a head start.
A recent report from Verizon revealed that the telecommunications giant's IoT connections in smart cities grew by 19 percent between 2016 and 2017. IoT connections in energy and utility companies jumped 41 percent during the same time.
Open-source technologies will also play a role in modernizing urban areas.
The open source software ecosystem provides the "necessary building blocks of smart cities," according to a recent article from Datamation guest author Rami Sass. Adapting to public stakeholders that demand fast and friendly service and demonstrable innovations, coders will seek out open source solutions that help them keep pace with technology trends, shorten development cycles and save money.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.