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“Smart Cities” approaches how cities have the power to change the way people live, work, and play. This means that everything from 5G connectivity to a whole connected city is impacting the next generation of smart cities and their citizens. This new iteration was unveiled at CES2020, inviting government leaders, investors, security professionals, stakeholders, and other thought leaders to discuss the new wave of ideas and solutions.

Smart cities are more connected, which presents a host of new challenges and opportunities around corresponding solutions. The smart city market is expected to rise to $158 billion in 2022, improving daily activities through efficiency around air quality and traffic patterns, emergency preparation, wayfinding and navigation, and energy optimization.

Key smart city points from CES2020:

  1. Importance of inclusion and equitable design — Smart city design at its core must deploy resources as efficiently as possible to provide balance for competing priorities, and to keep track of the consumer. By putting people at the center of the smart cities-vision, smart cities should be about wellbeing, so people, including those with visual or physical impairments, can navigate safely and enjoy the same level of accessibility and amenities. During the “The Reality of Smart City Development” panel, Park Won Soon, the Mayor of Seoul, South Korea emphasized that smart cities should be enjoyed by everyone as part of basic human rights, laying an institutional foundation to make smart cities more sustainable and equitable. For example, by providing free wifi everywhere, and for everyone.
  2. New technology enhancements coupled with repurposing aging infrastructure – The promise that technology holds, and at the same time some of the challenges that are faced by aging infrastructure. Cities are coalescing around mobility and social equity as top concerns, which is supported by leadership and vendors in many cities. Advocacy is important as supportive public policies in the built environment and connected mobility are shaped.
  3. Prioritize public safety – It is predicted that 70% of IoT devices using cellular connections by 2022. Cities must focus on robust and reliable network connectivity for optimal communication. Cities achieve success when smart city-network infrastructure is embraced as a holistic strategy with the goal of enhancing each citizen’s safety through connectivity and accessibility.
  4. Cybersecurity awareness and data-centric perspective – “The tsunami of data is already upon us,” said Sameer Sharma, Global GM for New Markets/Smart Cities, IoT Solutions at Intel. As urban populations are exponentially increasing around the globe each year, a people-centric view is needed, in addition to a data-centric view. People are creating a lot more data. With more and more connected technologies and shared data, comes the responsibility of even greater cybersecurity measures and protection. Platforms must be safety-centric when so much is embedded in people’s daily lives because once platforms are compromised, the threat can compromise the asset(s) behind them.
  5. Public and private sectors must work together to address the greatest challenges – Initiatives to redesign cities must be a collaborative effort around sustainability and innovation. Nonprofit organizations can play a role in advocating for and bringing attention to timely issues. Behind every successful smart city, there are private or academic groups that support the local government’s efforts.

Smart cities are not a concept that is expected to arrive in 2030 or 2050, smart cities are becoming our reality now. An ideology shared across the CES2020 panels is that each smart city needs an individualized approach to identify the most pressing issues and priorities within the constraints of the existing infrastructure; however, solutions are most readily accessible and successful when there is collaboration across geographic areas and industry specialization, as well as across public, private and non-profit sectors.