Investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total $108 billion between 2010 and 2020, according to a new research report.
Pike Research predicts that annual spending on these technologies will reach almost $16 billion by 2020, primarily for information and communications infrastructure. The trend will track with a global population boom, expected to reach 8.3 billion people in the next two decades, with five billion in urban areas.
The firm defines a "smart city" as the application of technology for sustainability, citizen well-being, and economic development. Under that broad definition comes technologies such as smart meters, wireless broadband, intelligent transport and virtually anything that combines sensors and monitoring software.
As more of the world's citizens choose to live in cities instead of rural areas, their portion of global energy use (and greenhouse gas emissions) is expected to rise. "Smart" technologies will help mitigate the trend, Pike says.
"Information and communications -- particularly ubiquitous broadband Internet access -- are vital elements in any definition of the smart city," senior analyst Eric Woods said in a statement. "But a city only becomes smart if it can make use of these capabilities to deliver real-time services based on the capture of information."