The term “smart” is used to indicate the use of technologies such as computer chips and the myriad of applications that run on them. Smart phones and smart watches are literally miniature computers that you wear or carry in a pocket. Smart homes include digital assistants, IoT (Internet of Things) connected appliances, remote operation, and entertainment and comfort controls often activated by voice.

But what constitutes a smart city? In Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan, more than half of the population is living in cities, and it is expected to reach 60% by 2030. This rapid urbanization brings numerous challenges such as traffic congestion, water and electricity shortage, and public safety. State and local governments are investing in smart cities initiatives to address these challenges.

According to IDC, Asia/Pacific will account for one third of global spending on smart cities initiatives throughout the 2019-‘23 forecast period– reaching $65.5 billion in 2023. Investment in greater automation and productivity is primarily focused on critical infrastructure such as smart Linkgrids, which attract the largest share (19%) of investments, followed by fixed visual surveillance, advanced public transportation, intelligent traffic management, and connected back office.

Smart grids focus on using data from sensors and smart meters. This real time communication, augmented by AI (artificial intelligence) and operating over 5G networks, will help in optimizing the supply and demand forecast and reduces operational cost because of predictive maintenance. Pandemics like COVID-19 can be better handled if the cities are equipped with data driven public visual safety systems so that local governments can monitor the situation and engage with the residents in real time. Advanced public transportation and intelligent traffic management enables the cities to take on the traffic congestion and maximize road and driver safety.

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