COVID-19 accelerates rollout of smart cities technologies


The globe has witnessed an increase in the adoption of smart cities technologies as governments strive to improve their resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ABI Research.

City governments are adjusting to a new reality, with COVID-19 driving urban resilience and digital transformation strategy agendas.

This is reflected in the deployment of a range of technologies for new use cases during the current emergency.

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The new use cases include:

  • Drones for communication and enforcement of social distancing rules and the delivery of medical supplies.
  • New types of surveillance – AI-based remote temperature sensing
  • Autonomous freight – Autonomous last mile delivery
  • Digital Twins – Holistic, transversal, real-time visibility for resources, assets, and services
  • Real-time dashboards (City of Boston) and data sharing including the use of smartphone data crowdsourcing for location tracking

Dominique Bonte, vice president of end markets at ABI Research, said: “While many of the measures taken by city governments during COVID-19 are decided on the fly requiring high levels of improvisation, it has resulted in a rich laboratory type learning experience in terms of how to take advantage of the inherent flexibility of technologies to address emergency situations and challenges linked to demand-response management of assets and services.

“This will have a lasting impact, coming out of COVID-19 during and after the drawn-out recovery period, in the form of a step change in how resilience is approached and generalized, allowing to prepare better for future calamities, a distinct silver lining on a very dark COVID-19 cloud.”

Global cities are reaping the benefits of a digital only lifestyle in the form of the sudden adoption of e-government services, e-health and teleconsultation, remote work, online education, and e-commerce resulting in huge drops in traffic levels and carbon emissions.

For more information about the report, visit: Smart Cities and Smart Spaces Quarterly Update