In a 2018 report completed by the Eden Strategy Institute, 12 of the globe’s 20 smartest cities were located in the USA. Founded upon a spirit of innovation, it is perhaps no surprise that many of the country’s smart cities are so high-ranking, providing inspiration to other cities all over the world. Following our exploration of 4 up-and-coming North American Smart Cities in Part 1, we’ve chosen to take a brief look at 4 of the most prominent smart cities in the country in Part 2. From 2018’s highest ranking smart city worldwide, New York, to its start-up hub, San Francisco, we’ll take you through some of the smartest initiatives the US has to offer.
The US is, in many ways, the birthplace of innovation: it was there that Ford launched the first affordable car and there that Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the US has also produced some of the world’s most innovative smart cities. With so many to choose from, we’re going to dive right in and take a look at some of the less obvious smart urban centres to see how they’re changing their city’s physical and social landscape in order to improve the lives of their citizens.
As we saw in our last article on Asian smart city stars, urban centers in Asia are facing mass urbanization on a much more significant scale than many other parts of the world. They are also often located in climate-vulnerable regions. For example, a World Bank research report assessing the possible consequences of continued sea-level rise on eighty-four developing countries found that the impact of sea-level rise will be particularly severe for the Asia-Pacific region. For this reason, becoming ‘smarter’ and more sustainable is a top priority for many of Asia’s cities. In this article, we will look at four more Asian metropolises that are pushing forward smart initiatives in order to tackle current and prepare for future challenges. If you have not read the first part of the Rising Asian Stars article, you can read it here Rising Asian Stars: Smart Cities to Watch in 2019 - Part 1.
Bob Bennett, the former Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) of Kansas City talked in our Smart City Leader Interview Series - while he still was the CIO of Kansas City - about the importance of smart cities and smart citizens. He emphasized the role of technology and the benefits for citizens.
There were an estimated 47 megacities in existence in 2017, and the majority were located in Asia. The region is facing urbanization on a scale far beyond that of other regions, with an estimated 1.1 billion moving into Asian cities in the next 20 years. Many Asian countries are also in areas that are prone to extreme weather patterns or natural disasters, and this is only becoming more of a problem with climate change. Cities across the continent urgently need to prepare for serious population growth, and the strain it will place on their public services, and the risks that environmental changes pose. For this reason, becoming more resilient and ‘smarter’ is inevitably at the top of most Asian cities’ political agendas. In this article we are going to explore some of the Asian cities investing in becoming smarter and more sustainable in order to make their citizens safer and happier.
Rob van Gijzel, the former Mayor of Eindhoven and current Chairman of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) Foundation in New York and National Ambassador for the Blockchain Cities Coalition speaks about the importance of smart cities and smart citizens.
The importance of smart cities & smart citizens: In our interview series, smart city leaders comment on the future of smart cities, the role of technology, and the benefits for citizens. In our second interview of the series, we have asked urban strategist and smart city expert Boyd Cohen to share his expertise, thoughts and insights with us on a number of important smart city topics.
The importance of smart cities & smart citizens: In our new interview series, smart city leaders comment on the future of smart cities, the role of technology, and the benefits for citizens. In our first interview of the series, we have asked Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, California to share his expertise, thoughts and insights with us on a number of important smart city topics.
As we discussed in our previous article (Blockchain: The Next Frontier of Smart Cities - Part 1), blockchain has the potential to transform our communities, making the places we call home more collaborative, democratic and sustainable places. It is no surprise then, that a whole bunch of cities - from Santiago de Chile, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Oslo, and Milan, to London, and Stockholm - are already developing blockchain-based projects. Dubai is going even further, aiming to become the world’s first fully ‘blockchain-powered city’ by 2020. Lofty ideals aside, as we examined in part 1, blockchain does actually seem to offer some concrete benefits for communities, as we shall see below.
Blockchain is a hot topic. Until very recently, it was associated almost exclusively with cryptocurrency - bitcoin, ethereum etc. However, the power of blockchain to revolutionize the way we exchange goods and services, and transform how we govern - above and beyond the cryptocurrency hype - is increasingly being recognized. When it comes to cities, the transformative potential of this technology is enormous. From enabling P2P energy-sharing systems, as in New York’s ‘Transactive Grid’, which allows local residents to generate, buy and sell their own solar energy, to encouraging behavioral change - for instance through SocialCoin’s blockchain and AI-based ‘social good’ currency (see e.g. the Citibeats solution) - and much more - blockchain is offering new opportunities to create more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable communities. As such, blockchain is likely to be an increasingly central enabler of smart city innovation worldwide. In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of blockchain in an urban context.
Innovating Urban Planning to Foster Community-Focused Development
More than half of the world’s population currently live in cities. The UN estimates that by 2050, this figure will have doubled. The “financialization” of housing, among other factors, has led to a situation where many of the world’s cities are now defined by a chronic shortage of housing for the least advantaged, and in many cases, for the working and middle classes as well. The local connection between the financial institutions funding housing development and the people buying them has long disappeared, replaced by a new international financial system where real estate is a major asset. Indeed, a recent UN report estimates that the total value of global real estate makes up 60 percent of all global assets, with a value of $217 trillion, three-quarters of which is housing. 
So how do we make housing more accessible in cities the world over? The ‘smart city’ movement presents cities with the opportunity to build and plan ‘smarter’, developing citizen-centered, tech-enabled living, working and playing spaces that respond to people’s changing desires and needs - that are ‘future-proof’ and ‘user-centric’. Whether in Sao Paulo, Brasil, or Todmorden, UK, smart city innovation, and the ideas and funds it brings, should be capitalized upon to drive forward and finance smart development projects that help to relieve the global housing crisis that we are facing. In this week’s article, we will focus on some of the ways we can innovate planning in order to ‘redistribute’ housing stock (both existing and future) to create more equitable, just and sustainable urban communities.
The term ‘smart city’ is everywhere at the moment, but it is still mostly discussed in reference to familiar names - Amsterdam, Barcelona, Toronto, Vienna - the usual suspects. This overlooks the innovative projects and smart city solutions being implemented in less well-known cities across the globe, and suggests that the world’s major capitals are the only leaders in this space. In this article we are therefore going to take a brief look at the world’s smart cities that we believe deserve more attention in 2018. Some are big, others are small, but, regardless of their size and location, they’re all making themselves ‘smarter’ for the benefit of their citizens: