Marina Bay Sands shopping mall in Singapore uses a lot of smart city tech. Source: Shutterstock

Has Asia bought into the concept of smart cities?

WHEN you think of smart cities, images of Singapore, China, and Japan usually pop into your head, irrespective of which part of the world you live in.

It’s because of all the news about how cities in these Asian countries are accelerating projects in this avenue, leveraging technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G networks.

The truth is that Singapore and many cities in China and Japan are already quite smart, thanks to their recent investments in car parking, mobility, and urban infrastructure solutions.

But they’re all far from done – and their passion has caused other cities, in other parts of the world, to start chasing the smart city dream.

According to a new report by IDC, smart city initiatives will attract technology investments of more than US$81 billion globally this year, and spending is set to grow to US$158 billion in 2022.

The team of analysts at the company believes that the three largest use cases this year will be fixed visual surveillance, advanced public transit, and smart outdoor lighting.

By 2022, intelligent traffic management will overcome smart outdoor lighting in the third position, and the top three use cases will only account for one-fifth of total spending, as smaller and fast-growing use cases emerge and reach critical mass.

“Officer wearables and vehicle to everything (V2X) connectivity, in particular, will generate the fastest growth, although they currently start from a small base in most regions,” IDC said.

True to what we read about everyday, the APAC region, including China and Japan, will account for nearly 42 percent of global spending in 2018, followed by the Americas (33 percent), and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) (25 percent).

The United States is the largest country market for smart city spending (over $23 billion in 2018), followed by China.

However, spending by the 53 cities that are currently sized in IDC’s database accounts for around 15% of global smart city spending, with Singapore, Tokyo, New York City, London, and Shanghai leading the way in terms of investments made or planned for this year.

“IDC expects to see strong, continued investment by the private and public sector in urban areas and in Smart Cities and Communities programs and projects. This also means that it is a more competitive market,” concluded IDC’s Smart Cities and Communities Vice President of Programs Ruthbea Yesner.