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It's time for smart cities to look beyond the conventional worldview and strive to become self-sustainable to reach climate goals faster and enrich the lives of urban populations in more meaningful ways.

Smart cities have long been perceived as the infrastructural moat against urban population explosion and mass displacement. But as things stand today, they have a long way to go to become the solution we already think they are. The lack of community integration, industry convergence, and siloed innovations have slowed development and are solvable only through more stakeholder outreach and better data management, as well as the synergy between IoT and people's needs.

Elements of a smart city

Frost & Sullivan holds the perspective of an orthogonal foundation for a smart city-spread across governance, energy, building, mobility, infrastructure, technology, healthcare, and citizens. Smart cities that successfully adhere to the core foundations exhibit three primary elements: a self-sustainable status that fulfills the city's development goals, monetization models that include diverse stakeholders, and community engagement to find the right fit for the citizens. While smart cities aim to enrich people's lives, they can only do so by becoming self-sustainable.

Building a roadmap to develop self-sustainability smart city

To develop a self-sustainable smart city from the ground up, administrations must split the project into three stages: planning, enabling, and maturity. At the planning stage, there's a need to continuously optimize an aligned vision and long-term strategy based on project outcomes and technical evolutions. When it comes to enabling this vision, the self-sustainable smart city uses a unified cross-department organization to collaborate between citizens, industry leaders, and other stakeholders. It consolidates data collection and derives improved decisions from analytics. At the maturity stage, a self-sustainable smart city should be ready to upscale and export documented best practices to other smart cities.

The smart cities we have today are fragmented and reactive at best. Fragmented ones have unaligned visions, nonexistent cross-department cooperations, and rudimentary data collection methods. While the reactive kind make efforts to accommodate user decisions, the goal should be to evolve into a proactive smart city and eventually into a self-sustainable one.

Smart city monetization

Frost & Sullivan emphasizes breaking down data silos because it's the first step in implementing effective monetization models. City administrators must aggregate data collected from citizens, mobile devices, networks, public transport, and maps to find patterns and improve decision-making. The raw datasets and derived insights can later be sold as assets to clients.

The revenue generation cycle in a self-sustainable smart city involves five steps: turning collected data into financial assets, investing in startups and becoming stakeholders, creating tailored solutions using city data, charging fees from the users of the IoT platform and other stakeholders and selling hardware add-on (sensors and controllers).

However, it's also essential to invest in R&D to exchange knowledge between industries and create sustainable revenue strategies for the future. IH operates at the intersection of talent, knowledge, and innovation, and with the success of R&D, it aims to solve complex city challenges of the future.

Recommendations for sustainability

Community engagement often makes the difference between generic cities and self-sustainable ones. When designing the city's identity and aspirations, policy development, and research programs, citizens, governments, private companies, and academia must be included and empowered during critical discussions. Doing so creates buy-in and opens up new possibilities.

Frost & Sullivan has identified four best practices to help smart cities develop a sustainable footprint. First, administrations must deeply understand the city's problems, development projects, and current infrastructure. Next, they must prioritize challenges along with their outcomes. The next step involves generating city-wide participation by using incentives-this can be better city services, brand image, and revenue generation. Finally, the execution stage kicks in. Using a horizontal organization, drawing up visions and guidelines, and partnering with third-party experts can expedite the process.

Growth opportunities in Smart Cities

A self-sustainable smart city opens up new growth opportunities for investors and stakeholders. For example, wellness-conscious people want an end-to-end smart home, making IoT-enabled smart buildings one of the most compelling trends today. Another growth avenue is crowd inflow in megacities. Building mobility solutions that can manage crowd movement, prevent stampedes and improve parking will be in high demand as more cities integrate smart technologies. Apart from these, sustainability metrics will improve with greater adoption of eco-tech, which will also open up new business models, including“as-a-service” lifestyle subscriptions.


It's time for smart cities to look beyond the conventional worldview and strive to become self-sustainable to reach climate goals faster and enrich the lives of urban populations in more meaningful ways. The above roadmaps should provide the necessary insights to go about it.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Viswesh Vancheeshwar

Quelle/Source: MENAFN, 06.12.2022

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