Smart City Offers Significant New Opportunity

by Oct 18, 2013Announcements

Dave Hahn

Dave Hahn is the Director of Digital Strategy for Meeting of the Minds.


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An article from Mary Allen at InsightaaS.com covers a broad range of topics and themes from last month’s Meeting of the Minds 2013 in Toronto — especially the use of connected technology to create smarter, more sustainable cities. She gave special notice to the talk by Wim Elfrink, Chief Globalization Officer for Cisco Systems, excerpted above.

‘Smart City’ is putting on new cloths as the concept expands to address multiple challenges in sustainable development for a growing number of constituencies. Conceived originally by urban theorists as an assessment of urban performance based on measure of a city’s arsenal of physical infrastructure and human and social capital, the term now speaks to academics, policy-makers, citizens and industry across a range of disciplines. Many of these were on hand at the 7th annual Meeting of the Minds event held in Toronto this month, to add their perspective, share best practices and identify new potential for the creation of equitable, living urban organisms.

A key theme at this year’s Meeting of the Minds event – and a hallmark of the evolution of the smart city concept – is the progress towards this goal through the application of information and communications technologies. In this enablement process, the private sector plays a critical role, primarily through the supply of digital and communications technologies needed to power intelligent municipal collaboration and better management of energy, water, transport, buildings and other urban infrastructures. Representatives from private industry were out in force at the conference, with sponsors Toyota, Cisco, Schneider Electric, Bombardier, IBM, Itron and Jones Lang LaSalle onsite at the Evergreen Brickworks to showcase the latest tech innovation. For these and other ICT companies, smart city offers significant new opportunity: a market review released in Q1 2013 by Navigant Research, “forecasts that the smart city technology market will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to $20.2 billion in 2020.”

But how can a company market to a concept that continues to undergo seismic shift as it grows to accommodate new challenges and changing stakeholders? One answer for vendors that want to do business with smart cities is reinvention – a corresponding shift in principles of demand creation and marketing approach. These were also on display at Meeting of Minds.

Cisco is especially adept in this regard, and sent its chief globalisation officer, Wim Elfrink, to envision the use case(s) for advanced ICT in urban environments. According to Elfrink, demographic change is requiring real productivity improvements if we are to maintain our current standard of living. At the same time, population explosion and huge in-migration to cities, in developing regions in particular, are creating huge demand for more infrastructure. To meet this demand, he explained, “you have to think differently” about the “virtualization of education,” the ”virtualization of healthcare,” and the ”virtualization of work,” taking advantage of the Internet of Everything, or the digital connection of people, processes, data and things, to generate alternatives to physical infrastructure.

Excerpts from Elfrink’s visualization exercise are available in the accompanying video here; and concrete “iconic” examples of the application of Cisco’s Smart + Connected Communities concept were offered up in Elfrink’s presentation, notably, Rio de Janeiro’s use of networking technologies to coordinate management of city systems in an Integrated Operations Centre, and new for Canada, implementation of a Cisco WiFi mesh at the Toronto Waterfront development to enable new levels of collaboration and service delivery in this intelligent community project. Another example he provided is Nice, which has implemented smart parking, lighting, waste management and environmental monitoring, using Cisco infrastructure and other technologies to achieve savings of 30 percent in energy consumption, 50 percent in water, a 20 percent reduction in crime rates and a 30 percent reduction in traffic congestion.

Continue reading: Meeting of the Minds showcases private sector role in Smart City by Mary Allen, October 10, 2013

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