According to a recent study, over half of the world's cities have a smart city roadmap, but only 16% have mature projects running. Despite their technological allure, smart cities have progressed in fits and starts due to funding bottlenecks, technology-related pitfalls, citizen trust issues, and societal polarization across the digital divide. Around 30% of current projects are likely to be discontinued by 2023. Smart cities seek to leverage the internet and related advanced technologies – such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence/machine learning – to reduce carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency, and enhance citizens' lifestyles.
Building a truly "smart" city is ambitious and fraught with risk. For many cities burdened by legacy infrastructure, the humbler aspiration of an incrementally smarter city is more likely to succeed technologically and to secure sufficient community trust. Greenfield cities must overcome their own unique challenges as citizens relocate to new urban areas and adapt to technology-enabled lifestyles. Governments and city planners with aspirations and budgets to shape a city's progress need to work even more closely with other stakeholders – such as technology providers, investors, and industry associations – to build durable partnerships and drive adoption. Outcome-oriented, citizen-centered approaches to technology-enabled city projects are clearly the way forward.
Challenges to adopting smart city solutions
This report unpacks the most problematic challenges that impede progress and adoption:
- Funding and planning gaps
- Technology or operational hurdles
- Flagging stakeholder motivation and alignment
The report also provides a variety of solutions for choosing the most appropriate innovation approach and funding mechanisms, managing technological complexity and governance challenges, protecting privacy, addressing workforce needs, and enhancing community engagement and adoption.
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