Recent research found many metro areas reporting a return-on-investment from smart city deployments.
One of the main fears for cities investing in smart technologies is the large initial investment – in computing and technical expertise – will not translate to any meaningful revenue generation or improvement in conditions.
Recent research conducted by Stantec on 100 metro areas across the world found many reporting a return-on-investment from smart city deployments. Thirty-eight percent of cities reported greater customer satisfaction, and 32 percent said productivity has improved.
The Building a Hyperconnected City study also said 45 percent of cities reported improved public health, 44 percent noted a reduction in pollution and 43 percent a stabilization in energy prices, potentially from household renewables added to the energy grid.
While statistics like customer satisfaction and improved productivity may be difficult to process, pollution levels and electric prices are easily verified. Knowing that smart city initiatives are partly responsible for this is major news, and should spur on other cities looking to reduce carbon emissions and energy prices for citizens.
The deployment of public Wi-Fi, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cloud computing and mobile technologies (apps) is pervasive, with 90 percent of cities in the study deploying them. Biometrics is another hot technology, with 83 percent deployment. What is a bit fishy about the study is the high level of AI (82 percent) and blockchain (66 percent) deployment, this may indicate that Stantec is lumping together completed, in-development and concept projects together.
In the study, Stantec revealed some of the highest investment returns, which included: first aid alerts, digital business licensing, gunshot sensors, dynamic electricity pricing, and curb management.
While the return on investment for smart city initiatives could be tantalizing, the cyber-security risks can run into the millions. According to Stantec, the total cost of cyber attacks averaged $3.4 million; 10 percent of cities surveyed lost $10 to $20 million.
As cities transition more public services and systems to the internet, the cost for cyber-security is only set to increase. This may be more worrying for those cities that haven’t invested heavily in security, to begin with, which may have to spend millions to cover the damage inflicted by cyber-attacks.