By Matt Hamblen
ABI analyst Dominique Bonte offers some of the smartest insights on smart cities tech I’ve read. In a recent report, he described the positive impact of smart city tech on economic development. Economic development came in fourth behind cost savings, livability and safety and security in an ABI poll, but deserves to get a higher rank among city leaders, he believes.
“Economic development should be seen as sitting at the top of a hierarchy of benefits,” he writes. Bonte throws about some fabulous numbers for the value of smart tech: $10 trillion in incremental GDP for all cities globally in the next decade and recurring, sustainable growth of 2.8% by 2026.
It’s not easy for me to comprehend such high-level economic benefits for an individual city and so his predictions for global economic impact are not that worthwhile. However, the political imperative for smart city tech investments is more compelling, as he writes: “Increasingly, the world is looking at cities as the only level of government which will be able to address the challenges of the future with the local level increasingly replacing the national level.”
Later he notes the value of smart city tech as a means of addressing inequality within cities and inequality between cities. “One of the key concerns of city governments is to take care of all citizens and strive for a more level playing field through the digital and economic inclusion of disadvantaged minorities and communities. Initiatives like smart kiosks and public-private partnerships, whereby the benefits of the sharing economic are across an entire city, are just some examples of how this can be accomplished.” Cities can work with Uber and others in ridesharing to guarantee mobility in remote areas, for example. “Subsidizing new technologies and economic paradigms will save money as compared to building out rail or other public transport infrastructure.”
For many cities like Columbus and Montreal, it’s obvious that initiating smart tech isn’t going to do everything a city wants. There will have to be smart shuttles AND new transit lines. A focus on benefits to under-served neighborhoods, however, sounds like a great direction.
Bonte’s full ABI report can be downloaded at Chordant’s site.