What Is a Smart City and How Do They Help Local Economies?

Smart city applications aren’t only making cities smarter and people safer. They are also helping grow local businesses and bolster municipal economies.

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Until recently, smart cities were thought of as a thing of the distant future—an intangible goal for urban hubs to aspire to. Now, with more of the global population migrating towards city centers, 180,000 per day to be precise, smart cities may not be so far away after all.

There is no denying the positive impacts that smart cities have on the business and local economies they touch. According to a new study by ABI Research, the impact of smart city technology on economic development could see cities locking in more than $20 trillion in additional benefits over the coming decade. By employing smart city technology across a variety of sectors, major urban centers can see exceptional economic development.

Job Creation and Business Proliferation

Online talent acquisition platforms are increasingly connecting prospective employees with the right employers. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2025 these programs could add $2.7 trillion to global GDP and begin to ameliorate many common labor market issues. Aside from efficiently connecting candidates with best-fit positions, the data collected in these systems can be used to better determine continued education courses that can better equip applicants for their desired positions.

Additionally, municipalities that deploy smart city technology can more easily digitize and automate the business filing process, eliminating common barriers for entrepreneurs. By simplifying the administrative process, to-be business owners spend less time getting caught in red tape, and more time contributing to their local economy.

Improved Housing

Many of the world's largest cities are dealing with serious housing shortages, driving up home prices and rental costs. While expanding the housing supply is a great way to mitigate the crisis, bureaucratic policies can often slow down the process. In the housing market, digitizing land acquisition, permits, and design approvals can greatly simplify a builder’s ability to construct new homes. By increasing the amount of homes built not only is the housing shortage lessened, but affordability is also increased.

Furthermore, smart energy usage meters allow home and business owners to better monitor their energy consumption. Providing residents with this data can help to facilitate lifestyle changes, enabling dynamic energy usage and lower overall power needs. Cities like Barcelona are already deploying this type of technology, saving more than $75 million euros, or about $83 million dollars, by simply automating water and electricity resources, according to the International Journal of Health and Geographics.

Mobility Management

Traffic congestion and highway infrastructure are often among the top struggles that growing cities face. With the advent of rideshares and micro-transit options, these technologies can greatly reduce the number of cars on the road, and overall congestion. When combined with intelligent traffic lights that optimize routes based on real-time traffic data, roads are made safer, average commutes are shortened, delivery times are lessened for online retailers, and emergency response times are reduced by 20% to 35%, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Dataflog recently found that large cities can save up to $800 billion a year by simply utilizing smart transportation technologies.

Potent Marketing and Business Operations

With the data collected by smart city technology, local businesses are able to better serve their patrons. By analyzing demographic and buying-habit data, retailers can easily upgrade their marketing tactics for more powerful campaigns enabling improved customer engagement. Combined with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered surveillance technology, business owners can create heat maps of their stores, track visitor flow, and monitor employee-customer interactions. This leads to improved customer satisfaction, efficient staffing, reduced loss, and maximized per-customer transactions.

By 2050 nearly 70% of the world's population is projected to live in urban areas, according to the United Nations. Across the board, smart cities are poised to make impactful changes on local communities across a number of economic indicators. In order to meet the needs of residents, it is essential for municipalities to adopt this data-driven technology and commit to meeting the needs of residents.

Data’s Impact: What Business Owners Need to Know

To accommodate the exponential increase in data capture from sensors and digital devices, business owners must ensure they properly preserve, process, and archive this data. This starts with storage. Executives should implement IT 4.0 architecture where high-performing storage technologies are deployed at every stage of the data flow from edge to cloud. Fortunately, new solutions are emerging in the marketplace that enhance storage capacity and reliability.

A prime example is Seagate Technology’s SkyHawk and SkyHawk AI drives. Ideal for surveillance applications, SkyHawk drives record up to 64 HD cameras and are tuned for 24×7 workloads; SkyHawk AI also supports 32 streams of metadata. All SkyHawk drives feature ImagePerfect firmware, minimizing dropped frames and allowing for smooth, clear video streaming. They also come with built-in SkyHawk Health Management software to monitor drive health and flag potential issues to prevent data loss. Users can also subscribe to Seagate Rescue Data Recovery Services plans, which safeguard organizations from unforeseen drive failure.

For companies operating data centers that aggregate petabytes of data, Seagate Exos® enterprise-class drives provide exceptional capacity and scalability. For applications using hot data, Seagate Nytro® solid-state drives provide instant data availability. Additionally, Exos and Nytro drives provide a heightened level of cybersecurity for users and are compliant with Trade Act Agreement and Federal Information Processing Standard policies. Equipped with Seagate Secure features, both brands offer self-encrypting drives for an added layer of protection.

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