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According to a new study conducted by ESI ThoughtLab, the adoption of smart city technologies can raise GDP per capita by 21% and population growth by 13% over the next five years.

The study was conducted on 136 cities in 55 countries, 750 businesses and 2,000 citizens in 11 cities highlighting that:

  1. Without the right vision, plans, talent, and funding in place, smart city programmes will not reach their full potential of providing economic, social and productivity benefits
  2. The path to a smart city future is often unclear to urban leaders
  3. Data is the rocket fuel for smart city transformation.
  • By 2021, almost all cities will draw on IoT and real-time data.
  • The use of AI-generated data will grow fourfold.
  • Predictive data, currently used by 40% of cities, will rise in usage by 63%.
  • The use of both geospatial and behavioral data will rise by 54%.
  1. Keeping up with digital innovation is essential for smart city success.

Cloud-based technology, mobile apps, citywide data platforms, IoT/sensors, biometrics recognition and geospatial technology are now used by more than half of the surveyed cities.

By 2021, one out of ten cities will use more advanced technologies. Blockchain usage will grow by 752%, AI by 526%, drones/robots by 298%, Vehicles to Everything (V2X) by 257%, and VR/AR by 254%, over the next three years.

5. Spending on smart programmes rises with smart city maturity.

Beginner cities allocate 15% of their capital budget to smart programmes, while leaders apportion about 20%.

6. The future of mobility will be multi-modal systems connected through smart technology

7. City leaders see the environment as the top challenge to address through smart city programmes and improved public safety and health as the main benefits.

8. Funding for smart city solutions remains a key challenge for most cities.  In three years, public-private partnerships (65%) will be the dominant financing technique, followed by concession financing (60%), revenue share financing (60%), and department budgets (59%), which will all grow in use over current levels. Federal and state support will grow the most in use over the next three years, by 71% and 58%, respectively.

The study is titled, Smarter Cities 2025: Building a sustainable business and financing plan.