Smart Cities – Part 1: The Basics

More than 50% of world population lives in urban areas – and is expected to grow to over 65% by 2050. Of the urban dwellers, one in eight live in mega cities (10M+ population) and the rest in cities of different sizes, of which the fastest growing ones are the ones with 500,000-1,000,000 inhabitants, located in Asia and Africa. The reason for the growth in cities of all sizes is obvious – economic opportunity. About 80% of global GDP is generated in cities[i].

But this explosive growth and expansion comes at a cost:

  • Grid congestion
  • Pollution
  • Traffic congestion
  • Public services overload
  • Security concerns
  • Infrastructure issues


Governments at all levels (federal, state, city) around the world are beginning to explore how IoT can be used to mitigate these problems, thru “Smart City” initiatives. For example, India has a Smart City initiative of its own, to create 100 smart cities – with the mission of retrofitting and redeveloping urban centers and city infrastructures using smart solutions.

Smart City initiatives present a great opportunity for both government and industry to not only improve the lives of its citizens but also generate cost savings and revenue in the process. The global smart cities market is expected to grow from $411 billion in 2014 to $1,134 billion in 2019[ii].

The benefits and the opportunity are clear, but what’s the best way to get these initiatives off and running? Formulating strategy and execution of smart city initiatives involves several players, including:

  • Government, Public Policy Makers, Regulatory Organizations
  • IoT Platforms and Solution Providers
  • Telecom Carriers
  • System Integrators
  • Device/Sensor Manufacturers
  • Network/Infrastructure Providers
  • Managed Service Providers
  • And so on…


The actual list of players varies depending on the smart city initiative – but it is safe to say that multiple parties are involved in strategizing, executing and operating smart city programs.

So how to get started with the Smart City initiatives? Which initiatives provide the biggest bang for the buck? There are so many different initiatives to consider:

  • Smart Transportation
  • Smart Traffic
  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Grid
  • Smart Buildings
  • Smart Security
  • Smart City Services (like emergency response)
  • Smart Environment
  • Smart Energy
  • and so on


The choice of initiatives greatly depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Regional needs and preferences
  • Timeframe of desired solution
  • Regulatory demands
  • Technological availability and access
  • and so on


Clearly, there are many considerations for smart city program owners to take into account – and getting started is the hardest part. We at Kii recognize this, having been involved in various IoT initiatives ourselves with our flagship IoT platform. In March, we are taking our experience to India to co-organize (along with IdeaBytes) and sponsor a one-day conference around Smart Cities & IoT to facilitate discussion between government and industry about the policies, strategy and execution of smart city initiatives in India.

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss more about specific Smart City segments and what’s involved in bringing them to reality.

[i] World Urbanization Prospects


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Phani Pandrangi
Phani Pandrangi

Chief Product Officer

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