The Future Is Now for Smart Cities

Municipalities across Europe are tapping into RFID and related technologies to deliver new and enhanced services.
By John Edwards

Smart-city technologies also appeal to people who are concerned about the environment. Most Europeans tend to be open to projects that promise to improve their quality of life, particularly if such ventures also lead to a cleaner and healthier community, Bevan says. "In Europe, they have a very strong mindset, at a corporate, citizen and government level, around the concept of being green," he says.

Despite persistent economic weakness, European national governments continue pouring euros into smart-city initiatives, often in the hope that the technology will lower the cost of providing essential services, support EU technology providers and maintain or enhance services despite rapidly aging populations.

"It's national governments that are funding projects within specific cities," Liard says. "Local government is more constrained than ever when it comes to budgets, so continued national government involvement with, and funding of, these types of projects is what's going to continue to drive smart cities onward."

Yet, government support for smart-city initiatives varies widely across the continent. Not surprisingly, project funding is generally weakest among the EU's most economically troubled nations, such as Greece and Ireland. Spain, despite facing significant economic challenges, continues funding smart-city projects, Muñoz notes. "France is certainly the beacon within Europe in terms of allocating euros toward the Internet of Things and creating smarter cities," Liard says.

To speed development and reduce costs, many emerging smart cities are seeking business partnerships to share costs, as well as to tap into the latest technology innovations. Meanwhile, transportation, entertainment, retail, energy and tourism-oriented organizations are all beginning to see revenue potential in smart-city applications and are looking for municipal partners to collaborate with. "There's a good deal of private or enterprise investment," Devlin says. "They see an opportunity."

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