At first blush, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Masdar and Singapore might not seem to have a lot in common. But they are among the seven cities that can serve as models for the smart urban centers that are needed as more and more of the world's population become city dwellers.
Today 52 percent of global population lives in cities. By 2050, that percentage is projected to grow to 70 percent, placing demands on cities that far outstrip the current capabilities of most urban centers.
"Technology will play a central role in determining whether future cities are harmonious, vibrant and sustainable or discontented, wasteful and unsustainable," says a recent report from Lux Research. "Efficient future cities will integrate technologies to reduce their environmental impacts while sustainably coping with growing populations."
GreenBiz Group calls that vision of connected, smart urban centers VERGE cities.
The Lux report identifies eight development frameworks for smart cities of the future, singles out seven towns that best illustrate those models and notes the tech companies that have worked with the urban centers.
Those cities and some of their business partners are:
Singapore -- This city is "parlaying its position as an IT hub for over 200 multinational IT firms into being a leader in intelligent and sustainable urban infrastructure, led by its green buildings, traffic, water and smart grid programs," the report said. Companies working with Singapore include Siemens, Accenture, Daimler, Mitsubishi, Schneider Electric, Oracle, IBM, HP, JTC Corporation and Philips.
Amsterdam -- In addition to setting a series of bold sustainability goals, Amsterdam began its quest to become the first smart city in the European Union in 2009. IBM, Cisco and Philips are among the firms working with Amsterdam.
Stockholm -- "(L)ong established as a leading eco-city ... Stockholm's flagship initiative is Hammarby Sjostad, a sustainable district with integrated energy, water and waste management for 35,000 people in one of the city's central industrial areas," the report said. Companies working with Sweden include IBM, Ericsson, Echeleon, Landis & Gyr and Acumentrics.
SmartGridCity -- This was smart city demonstration project in Boulder, Colo., chiefly involving the public utility Xcel Energy. Accenture, whose initiatives include establishing an intelligent city network, also worked on the project.
Masdar -- The $22 billion green city envisioned by the Abu Dhabi government also gets attention in the Lux report, which notes that the building code for Masdar is "roughly equivalent to LEED-Platinum design." Masdar's business partners include Siemens, Abengoa Solar, BASF, General Electric, Schneider Electric, Mitsui, Mitsubushi Heavy Industries and 3M.
Incheon Free Economic Zone -- This zone is located in Incheon, South Korea, and is made up of four hubs -- a business center, an IT and biotech research center, an airport and shipping center and a tourist zone. The zone also includes Songdo, a greenfield city built on reclaimed land. Cisco is a business partner for the initiative.
PlanIT Valley -- Being developed in northern Portugal, PlanIT Valley is expected to be home for some 225,000 people when it is complete in 2015 and will serve as a living lab for a variety of innovations, the report said. Partners in the plan include Cisco and Microsoft.
The report examines each of the models, lists their pros and cons and describes strategies for participation.
With technology being key to the success of tomorrow's cities, "technology companies need to understand the variety of models under which future cities develop so they can tap the widest channel to market in each case, and should understand the pros and cons of each model to find their fit in this daunting and confusing space," wrote Lux Research Analyst Ryan Castilloux, the report's lead author.
An excerpt of the report, "Technologies for Future Cities: Integrating Efficiency, Sustainability, and Environmental Concerns," is available from Lux Research Inc. The full report is available to Lux clients.
Photo of Stockholm via Shutterstock.com.