When asked about examples of smart transportation solutions that are leading the way, Woods points to three cities: Stockholm, London and Singapore, which have all invested in smart toll technologies and sensor systems that help relieve traffic congestion.
Mobile applications that enable citizens to share information on their own, such as the one offered by Recyclebank and Transport for London, could also be instrumental, in part because they require minimal investment on the part of city governments, Woods said.
The key: Unlock public-private financing
Many smart city experiments going on right now could politely be described as pilot deployments, especially in the United States, where many were inspired by the stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In order for smart city systems to be widely deployed, local governments need to get far more creative about forcing public-private partnerships that share both the risks and rewards. Many will resemble the energy savings performance contracts that have been used to driving building energy efficiency projects, such as the one underpinning London's RE:FIT public-building retrofit program, according to Woods.
"Partnerships like this will be most attractive in North America and Europe, where things need to be self-funded," he said.
In Asia, on the other hand, smart city technology investments often are more likely to be considered along with other publicly funded infrastructure upgrades.
Here are three other factors that will be instrumental in smart city technology adoption, according to the Pike report:
- Holistic view: Smart city systems must be considered with the context of a city's entire operations infrastructure. Isolated developments will have a limited impact.
- Citizen engagement: Many pilot programs have overlooked the public's role in design, which could be a recipe for disaster when they are deployed more broadly.
- Collaboration: Chances are there will be more than one stakeholder in any given smart city project. That could mean supporting the agendas of local governments, international development agencies, local businesses and other organizations.