Singapore, London, New York, Paris and Tokyo leading the charge of smart cities

The market for smart cities technology and related infrastructure used in the world’s most advanced urban areas could expand to $1.6 trillion by 2020, but major cities around the world are showing signs of fragility claims a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The study, 21st Century Cities: Global Smart Cities Primer Picks, claims that the market for smart city technology such as 5G telecoms networks, artificial intelligence, building automation, ‘cleantech’, cybersecurity, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things, sensors, surveillance and so on is already worth around $1 trillion. The report ranks Singapore (pictured), London, New York, Paris and Tokyo as the world’s smartest cities. Around 55 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities and account for around 85 percent of GDP.

According to the report, despite such success more than 80 per cent of the world’s cities are showing signs of fragility. “Our cities are reaching a tipping point on many issues: poor governance and weak institutions, inadequate infrastructure, rising inequality, housing, environmental challenges and new and pervasive risks,” it concludes.

Globally, China has the largest urban population (758 million, followed by India with 410 million and the US at 263 million. The US is among the world’s most urbanised nations as 86 per cent of the population is urban. The countries with the greatest urban populations in 2050 will be China (1 billion), India (875 million), the US (365 million) and Nigeria (218 million). The report suggests that the world will have 41 mega cities and 11 meta cities by 2030. While mega cities are defined by a population of more than 10 million, meta cities have over 20 million inhabitants.

Tokyo is expected to remain the world’s largest urban agglomeration in 2030, with Delhi and Shanghai maintaining their second and third positions, respectively.

The report suggests that the two key issues of fragile infrastructure and crime could both be addressed with smart technology. Smart cities will feature transportation sensors, wastewater monitoring, lighting and energy management, parking systems and self-driving cars to transform the way they function.

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