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Digital transformation is paving the way to smart cities

Today’s cities and state governments must become “smart," or they risk falling behind


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Today’s cities and state governments are facing mounting challenges to become “smart," or they risk falling behind. First came smart phones and smart homes and now marks the emergence of smart cities. Municipalities and governments that have not evolved into smart cities are less able to attract business investment, add jobs and build a sustainable economy.

What is a smart city?

A smart city is a city that leverages technological innovation to transform its urban ecosystem to meet environmental, financial and social challenges. The onset of digital transformation has triggered the creation of such city environments.  

The need for digital transformation

Due to rapid population growth and urbanization that strains infrastructure and natural resources, cities and states must turn to digital transformation for innovative solutions.

Cities and communities of all sizes must embrace digital transformation to remain relevant and keep up with today’s technology needs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and USA Today, Austin and Midland, TX, Greeley, CO, St. George, UT and Bend-Redmond, OR are four of the fastest growing cities in the United States in 2018. Accommodating this growth is challenging, but digital transformation can help solve some of the problems that arise.

In a survey conducted by Comcast Business and global market research and intelligence firm IDC, 150 U.S. state and city government officials indicated they intend to “prioritize digital transformation.” Specifically, respondents are hopeful that digital transformation will result in economic development, civic engagement, data-driven public safety and sustainable planning.

Despite indications that officials are prioritizing digital transformation, cities are largely not acting. At the 2018 U.S. Conference of Mayors, only 14% of mid-sized cities (population between 150,000 and 1 million) had reported smart city projects and for small cities (population under 150,000) that number drops to under four percent.

Achieving digital transformation poses stark financial challenges for city and state governments, and administrators must budget for and implement smart city projects to be best prepared for the future.

Building a smart city

Internet connectivity is the foundational layer of smart cities, as it provides both internet access and new digital services infrastructure.

According to the Comcast Business survey, across the U.S., smart city investments are expected to grow from $23 billion in 2018 to $48 billion by 2022. In the same survey, 57% of respondents indicated that they are most heavily investing these resources in technologies that will create an enterprise-grade network infrastructure. This infrastructure must be scalable in order to adopt to emerging technologies.  

The most common smart city infrastructure includes:

  • Cloud platforms: Essential for economic development, civic engagement and public safety initiatives
  • Enterprise network architecture: Most essential for sustainable planning and administration initiatives
  • Network security: Most essential for resilient energy and infrastructure
  • Software-defined networks: Helps cities deploy applications faster and at reduced costs, which gives administrators the ability to manage and provision network services from a centralized location

The smart city difference

Smart cities  ̶  once the right infrastructure is fully implemented--will bring reliability, sustainable scalability, security and competitiveness for government operations, residents and businesses.

Across the U.S., Comcast Business has implemented infrastructure for smart cities and digital transformations, which has yielded the following results:

  • Networked LED street lighting that created up to a 60% reduction in operations and energy costs, with a six-year return on investment
  • Connected trash bins that produced up to an 80% reduction in cost
  • Smart parking that reduced the daily vehicle miles traveled by up to 40%; reducing emissions by approximately 30%
  • Smart buildings that reduced energy consumption by 20%
  • Smart water initiatives that reduced clean water loss by 40%

For businesses and citizens, residing in a smart city has become critical to support economic growth, new jobs and environmental sustainability,” says Pam Treece, executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance. “It is vital for cities and states to embrace digital transformation to ensure they are equipped to support their infrastructure throughout the 21st century and beyond.

Smart city — ready or not

Cities of all sizes must embrace digital transformation to ensure it is prepared today and into the future. Comcast Business is dedicated to this, in its commitment to a secure and reliable network that connects our consumers and businesses to local communities.

Attracting new residents, spurring business growth and achieving effective government operations and economic competitiveness rests on city and state governments’ ability to achieve digital transformation. There’s no better time than now to embrace the smart city evolution.

(This sponsored content was provided by Comcast Business.)

Robert Thompson is the vice president of Comcast Business for the Mountain West Region, which serves 154,000 business customers and operates across Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Tucson, AZ and parts of Idaho. Thompson has more than 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has been with Comcast Business for nearly 6 years, serving in a variety of roles. For more information, call 855-211-6987 or visit https://business.comcast.com/denver

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