Climate change, resilience, sustainability to be key smart city KPIs by 2020

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By 2020, half of all the smart city objectives will include climate change, resilience and sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs), according to Gartner.

Cities are defining new objectives and placing them into tangible programs, which in turn is creating measurable outcomes that meet the targets agreed upon at the COP 21 in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research vice president at Gartner.

“With the Horizon 2020 goals of energy efficiency, carbon emission reductions and renewable energy in mind, many cities in Europe have launched energy sustainability, resource management, social inclusion and community prosperity initiatives,” Tratz-Ryan said.

Tratz-Ryan discussed how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and the ability to analyze data in a contextualized way, can accelerate the development of smart city execution during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, currenty in progress in Barcelona.

Tratz-Ryan said that major cities around the globe have adopted traffic and mobility objectives to resolve or mitigate the traffic congestion issue with IoT-enabled smart city solutions. However, this is also happening at a time when traffic and transportation factors are shifting to the point where urban mobility becomes more than a seamless choice that consists of moving from Point A to Point B.

“The uptake of ride sharing, the electrification of public transportation, the support infrastructure for e-vehicles and congestion charging for combustion engines, all of those examples are driving cleaner air, producing fewer GHG emissions and saving energy, while improving the noise levels and ambience on streets,” Tratz-Ryan said.

For example, she said, the Florence card – which provides free transportation on electric buses to many tourist sites – demonstrates how there can be a substantial economic benefit in those measures that can be also directly related to climate change, resilience and sustainability outcome. “This example shows that there are economic advantages in those measures that can be also directly related to climate change, resilience and sustainability outcome.”

Meanwhile, sensors that will play a central role in smart cities have also become a critical element in the execution of climate change goals. According to Gartner, in 2017 around 380 million connected things will be in use in cities to deliver sustainability and climate change goals, and this figure will increase to 1.39 billion units in 2020, representing 20% of all smart city connected things in use. In 2017, use cases in smart commercial buildings and transportation will be the main contributors, representing 58% of all IoT installed base in smart cities.

Tratz-Ryan also observed that intelligent streetlights will be one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city.

Driven by policies such as the Ecodesign directive that stipulates that members of the EU will have to phase out their incandescent streetlights by the end of 2016, Gartner expects that those sustainability targets will also have a positive investment and innovation impact, especially for the industrial sectors located in urban corridors.

“Cities will become the environmental centers of excellence for new technology development, offering a stress test environment for the industry,” said Tratz-Ryan. “The advantages for cities will be profound. They will not only meet their mandated targets of the Horizon 2020 goals, but also develop greener and more inclusive city conditions that citizens can acknowledge as KPIs.”

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