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How smart technologies are reshaping our cities

By Max Burkhalter
January 28, 2022

In recent years, the idea of a smart city – that is, a city integrated with IoT technology – has been somewhat controversial. Whether it be the cost of implementation, lofty project goals, undelivered promises or privacy and security concerns, skeptics have been hesitant to move forward with the proliferation of municipal IoT. Despite this, the global annual spending on smart city projects is still projected to increase from $35 billion in 2021 to $70 billion by 2026, according to Smart Energy. Due to a combination of government funding and shifting perspectives, opinions around smart cities are changing, and experts are optimistic about the prospects of the new year.

Infrastructure investment
Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, dedicating $500 million in grants toward smart city projects through the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) program. SMART, which allocates $100 million per year over the course of five years, has a massive potential to accelerate the technological transformation of municipal systems. Everything from large-scale infrastructure projects like energy grids down to parking lots and utility meters stands to benefit from this digital integration. And the shift from a tech-first to a resident-first approach is changing public opinion for the better. 

What does 2022 have in store?
As funding and support for these smart infrastructure projects grow, there's a lot to look forward to in 2022. Cities recovering from the pandemic or natural disasters will have an increased focus on investing in infrastructure to ensure they run efficiently and seamlessly, no matter the disruption. The rising popularity of electric vehicles (EV) also means that cities will seek to improve the availability and resilience of charging stations to accommodate growing demand.

Additionally, municipalities are looking to incorporate more green technologies into new and legacy infrastructure. This is part of the broader goal of addressing climate concerns. Already, cities like Ithaca, New York have promised to decarbonize 100% of their buildings by 2030, and integrating smart green tech will be an essential component of this goal.

While cities certainly stand to benefit from the IoT, its integration will bring new concerns around cybersecurity. As the world becomes increasingly digital, threat actors are continually finding new ways to exploit these emerging systems. As a result, ransomware is on the rise, and there will undoubtedly be more high-profile cases like we saw in 2021. To counteract this, municipalities will have to beef up their cybersecurity defenses, focusing on data protection, and reassess their incident response plans.

How will smart technology be implemented in cities?
If you live in or have recently been to a major city, you've likely seen a few of these smart technologies already, from e-bikes to EV charging stations. But the potential for application in cities is near limitless. Here are just a few examples of how smart cities are integrating emerging technologies into everyday life to boost efficiency and reduce energy consumption:

  1. Waste management
    Sensors in waste receptacles can detect when they need to be emptied, alerting a truck driver to service the container.
  2. Utility meters
    Utility companies can track energy usage and improve flow management by using specialized meters in city buildings that are connected to the smart energy grid.
  3. Traffic control
    Smart traffic control systems can prevent major delays by using sensors to determine traffic volumes and adjusting red and green light times to manage road congestion.

Municipal IoT Hardware
For cities seeking to integrate smart technologies into their infrastructure, Perle is here to help. Perle has the tech tools and expertise to make your public sector deployment project run smoothly. Read our government success stories to learn more.


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