Smart Cities: now and beyond

(Editor’s note: contributed blogs like this are part of’s annual sponsorship program. Find out more here This blog was authored by Mark Collins, vice president of the partner organization at Cisco Canada.)

With mounting construction and rapid urbanization leading to busier streets, increased safety concerns and more pollution, cities are turning to technology solutions to streamline services for residents, and ensure environmental protection and preservation for future generations. Additionally, these forward-thinking cities are now reaping additional benefits from smart technology including cost efficiencies and better quality of life for their citizens.

The adoption of intelligent solutions helps cities identify how and where resources are being used, and then analyze these results to improve or change processes. For example, a 2018 McKinsey Global Institute Report indicates smart technologies can shave average commute times by 15 to 20 per cent, lower greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 15 per cent, and reduce water consumption by 20 to 30 per cent. The value and impact smart technologies offer are resonating — and globally, cities are acting. According to a report from IDC, spending on smart cities technology will be between US$80 billion and US$135 billion by 2021. 

While sustainability has been a focus for leading global cities for years, artificial Intelligence (AI) adds a new layer of possibilities for smart cities. For example, some current smart city programs using AI provide improvements to traffic and better parking management. Down the road, AI could be used more extensively to further understand how residents use city resources and how the city as a whole is functioning — with AI-powered computer vision systems potentially identifying and tracking elements of urban life such as vehicles, accidents, disasters, crowds, trash and more — to help planners get a broader picture of how the city is changing and responding so strategies can be adjusted accordingly. 

Smart Solutions

Mark Collins, vice president of Cisco Canada’s partner organization

In Canada, we at Cisco have been fortunate to work with some very forward-thinking municipalities on their journey to delivering digital services, including the cities of Mississauga and Vancouver. Globally, a great example of a city already on the path to becoming one of the top smart cities in the world is Copenhagen, which implemented intelligent solutions to improve the citizen experience and urban mobility, while bringing city operations to a new level of environmental sustainability. Specifically, intelligent solutions focused on waste disposal, lighting, and air quality, which resulted in reduced congestion, real-time lighting and improved parking management. The city also reduced its CO2 emissions with a connected city infrastructure. 

Cisco and its partners have been committed to transforming cities and communities around the world. Cisco Kinetic for Cities is providing communities with the tools they need to improve the day-to-day lives of citizens and to make faster, more-informed decisions with the data they collect. For example, Cisco Kinetic for Cities Environment helps understand and manage toxic pollutant levels in order to go green, in turn helping people breathe cleaner air and ensuring regulatory compliance. Cisco Kinetic for Cities Lighting takes pedestrian traffic and weather conditions into account so city streets are lit based only on consumption needs, thereby conserving energy and saving on energy costs.

While cities continue to leverage technology not only to be more green, but to be more intelligent, it is our job as their partners to ensure they’re aware of all the benefits they can achieve — especially as technology continues to evolve. 

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