The development of smart cities around the world is accelerating – with the total value of the global smart city market projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2020 and $2.5 trillion by 2025, according to PwC.
And there's everything to play for, with the McKinsey Global Institute predicting that smart city applications could reduce fatalities by 8-10%, accelerate emergency response times by 20-35%, shave 15-20% off the average commute, lower the disease burden by 8-15% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10-15%.
But why stop at smart cities? Just think what could be achieved if all our smart cities joined forces to create a "smart nation" – combining data on everything from traffic and energy use to shopping habits and healthcare needs.
The planning of a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging locations, for example, could use data from key retail locations where people typically park for more than 30 minutes – or the location of business parks where large numbers of workers commute by car.
National healthcare provision could be informed by data on where people live and work, how they typically travel and access healthcare, and perhaps even concentrations of certain health issues in particular areas. Combining such data across different cities could help ensure new hospitals are built in the most suitable locations – in densely populated areas or close to key transport routes for easy access. In areas with a young demographic, perhaps a minor injuries unit would be more appropriate – while some rural areas might be better served with primary care centres focused on specific problems such as diabetes or heart disease.
A truly smart nation could go beyond city infrastructure to adapt to the lifestyle choices of its population – structuring itself accordingly and running more efficiently.
Tackling crime or safety issues, for example, could include the use of intelligent lighting based on the habits of car drivers and pedestrians – as well as vandals or thieves. A late-night city concert could trigger changes in lighting provision in the surrounding area, as well as additional public transport to nearby villages, to ensure everyone gets home safely.
Nationwide housebuilding plans could be tailored to where people actually want to live – using data on key workers, for example, and where they choose to live. Or they could be linked to where people work, to cut commuting times – or at least combined with new transport routes to reduce congestion.
The possibilities are far-reaching. But our state-of-the-art spatial big data platform is helping to bring them closer than you think…