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Do you live in a smart home? Things have gone much wiser in the recent decade than it was ten years ago. We have stocked our homes, offices, and other places with artificial devices such as smart speakers, smart thermostats, and smart lightbulbs. However, this automated intelligence world trend is beyond our homes and spread to the entire city. Nearly all around the world, every city is making efforts to become the smart one. 

As the modern world is advancing with each passing day, every developed city is looking out for the ways to get modernized and keep up with the ‘Smart City’ tag to compete with the other smart cities. However, what does this ‘smart city’ designation means? How is one city comparing to the other in terms of smartness? The new decade has been started, and there is a need to look out for trends possessed by smart cities for 2021. Before jumping to the latest technologies of 2021 for smart cities, we will first define the smart cities.

Smart City Definition

In simple terms, the smart cities include the new and modern technology that has been created to resolve the issues such as economic development, improvement of water and air quality system, urban planning through greenways, transport issues and many others. This last decade has observed numerous cities undergoing digital transformation processes to raise their citizens’ quality of life. 

These smart cities are also referred to as the digital cities, wired cities, cyberville or smart cities. As 2021 has nearly started, the technologies will remain the transformational journey of smart cities. Moreover, new technologies are coming to life on the sidelines in the previous years, but now they are ready to go forward. Some of these critical technologies include Automated Intelligence and 5G, the topmost technologies in smart cities’ development.

How is technology shaping smart cities?

Although a significant increase in technology use was observed in 2020, the market experts predict 2021 as the most advanced year in technology. The smart cities are expected to grow continuously, and its implementation will take speed this year. Owing to the precautionary safety measures such as health screening and social distancing, and the excessive propagation of 5G, an inflection point is about to come where smart cities and IoT commercialization will be the way forward.

 There will be different trends worldwide that will streamline the workflow to make it quick and adjust to the current environment, thereby saving the resources and cost with efficient work. Its successful implementation requires insights in every business area by using analytics, Artificial intelligence, and sensors for quick decision-making. 

One crucial trend includes the actual, deployable solutions that will resolve the fragmentation of IoT. It will help the quick digital transformation across enterprises, buildings and cities as the connected and smart devices will enable smart cities’ development. It is expected that the following year will have a higher focus on ensuring the cost-effective and forward-thinking IoT solutions in transforming the people interact with the environment around them. 

This year will come up with different 5G connectivity, and its coverage will be expanded with increased speed. This 5G will be beyond the IoT device’s cellphones to help power smart homes and smart cities. 

Along with such technological advancements, the Qualcomm Smart City Accelerator Program will break IoT fragmentation barrier with the connection of municipalities and cities with the ecosystem to enable the delivery of highest efficiency, safety, cost savings and the sustainability. 

It will be beneficial for the engineers as smart cities’ engineering will focus on sustainability, safety and public health. The pandemic is pushing the technologies to the public and private spaces to detect crowd, mask, and temperature with the help of screening cameras for safety, which is expected to rise in 2021. 

Though there are numerous technological innovations to bring modernization to urban cities and convert them into smart ones, the top 5 technologies will transform smart cities’ shape in 2021.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is like the central vein of the smart city connecting every part of the town. Every smart city device needs to be connected to make decisions and in return, manage the resources and the entire population. This is the place of IoT that offers the perfect picture of a body that communicates the device and provides a smart solution. Every smart city’s smart solution is based on the Internet of Things as they are connected. Along with the advancements made in this area, there are still technological advances in recent years.

Here are different areas of the smart city that are positively impacted by the IoT.

Smart infrastructure

The smart cities include the smart parking system, advanced streets connection, smart lighting, and different transport innovations. The smart lighting will help the city authorities to keep ensure optimal illumination and provide lighting on demand. The smart and connected streets can deliver Information about road blockage and traffic, to the different devices. It helps in raising urban landscape and public transport. The smart parking management enables the drivers to find vacant location for their vehicle with help of Smart Parking’s In-Ground Vehicle Detection Sensors. It helps in the reduction of vehicle emission, congestion, reduced enforcement cost and driver stress. The connected charging stations in the shopping malls, city fleets, bus stations and airports can reduce the stress. This electronic vehicle charging station will be easily incorporated in the future with IoT for streamlining EV charging operations. 

Smart properties and buildings

The smart properties and buildings utilize various systems to secure and maintain buildings and assets and the area’s entire environment. The safe and secure buildings and properties include implementing biometrics, wireless alarms, IP surveillance cameras and monitoring for reducing the illegal access to theft. This technology utilizes the Perimeter Access Control (IoT) to restrict access to the property and detect unauthorized people. The smart sprinkler system integrated with cloud and other technologies with IoT enables the watering by ensuring the right water amount, thereby reducing the water wastage. The smart garden devices perform different tasks such as measuring fertilizers level, soil moisture, and saving the water bill. The smart heating system and ventilation system are also controlled with IoT devices as the sensors help improve the system’s performance and efficiency.

Smart industry environment

The industry’s new and smart environment has unique choices to develop applications with help IoT and other related technologies. Such technologies will help in various things including forest fire detection, controlling the air and noise pollution, monitoring the snow levels, avalanche and landslide avoidance, detection of earthquake early, presence of liquid in the grounds, levels of radiation and hazardous or explosive gases. 

Smart city services

The IoT has solutions for smart cities by providing emergency and public safety services. The key areas where IoT technology is helping in further development includes a smart kiosk, risky areas monitoring and public security through sensors, automated healthcare dispatch and management of explosion and fire. The smart kiosk offers services to the public, including 24 x 7 IP surveillance cameras and analytics, public announcements, and digital signage advertisement. 

Smart energy management

The IoT has been implemented in smart energy management, and many upcoming projects will be launched in 2021 that will reshape the standard of life of smart cities. The smart grids are the future technologies that include IoT solutions that will help achieve energy conservation at both the consumer and transmission level. Smart meters are also in process for industrial and residential metering that will identify energy usage based on real-time. The energy reports and analytics will be accessible on the internet through mobile applications connected with the smart meters.

Smart water management

The IoT will help manage smart water by identifying chemical and waste leakage, monitoring the quality of potable water, measuring and controlling the swimming pools condition, controlling pollution levels in the sea, and detecting the overflow of water and river floods.

Smart waste management

The smart solution to track the waste with IoT and connected devices will allow the waste service managers and municipalities to optimize the waste, address the environmental issues, and reduce operating costs. It will also enable the management to manage the environment’s problems in an inefficient collection of garbage.

Information and communication technology

Creation of the two-way communication channel is highly crucial for the urban city to be called the Smart City. And here is the role of Information and communication technology that connects the government and cities and builds the city according to citizens’ choice. The ICT allows the government to perceive the demand pattern of state and create resources pool for addressing online. 

ICT integrated into Smart City allows the betterment in terms of quality, interactivity and performance of the urban services to reduce the consumption of resources and their cost and enhance contact between the city government and citizens. The smart city applications run on the ICT infrastructure top and are developed to manage the flow of urban life and provide real-time response to improve quality of life. The ICT in the smart city is vital in offering flexibility, robustness and scalability if the intelligence is added to it. It can be done with the help of different design concepts that include:

Simplified and automated network management

It is the concept which allows the central and unified management of the network to simplify the unwieldy and mostly large networks for supporting the smart cities. Such networks are one of the basic needs of ICT enabled Smart City infrastructure. They allow the network to be considered one entity by raising efficiency and reducing the complexity.

Automated security threat

The network security management model blocks the threat at the source and avoids the latent and the network bottlenecks for traditional intrusion protection system (IPS). The system carries the flexible software-defined network for wireless and wired networks, thereby offering the improved and secure end-user experience. 

IoT enabled network

The IoT is one of the vital parts of Smart city, as mentioned earlier. Still, it is essential to combine the IoT applications with the ICT because they are necessary for the wireless network, reducing the wireless installation cost and providing the easy deployment of the IoT devices.

Artificial Intelligence

The smart cities are the digital revolution that generates a large pile of data which is of no use if unprocessed. But if it needs to be processed, it requires Artificial Intelligence to make something out of the raw data. Artificial Intelligence allows interaction among machines for data processing. AI in smart cities will lead the significant player role in creating smart urbanization with consistent growth and lively features for everything. There are tons of areas where AI can be utilized to raise the system’s efficiency and performance in smart cities.

Advanced surveillance system and cameras

The AI-based sensors and cameras allow keeping an eye on the surrounding environment for security. These cameras can recognize every person and track any unusual activity. Such cameras can track every vehicle movement too. 

Traffic management and vehicle parking system

CCTV cameras and road surface sensors in parking sites allow creating real-time traffic and parking maps, saving drivers time to find the parking place.

Face detection and movement cameras

The face detection technology by AI can recognize people by their faces and identify their personality. These drones and cameras recognize human faces and trace their identity. 

Smart waste management system

Cities produce large waste amount and cameras equipped with AI are able to detect the trash from streets and recognize garbage type. The bins’ AI-based sensors allow efficient waste collection and authorities are immediately notified once the containers are filled and need picking. 

Better planning and governance management

In the development of urban cities, the AI techniques help map land use for the generation of details with the help of aerial 2D or 3D view of geographic area. The unique algorithms training with machine learning can analyze satellite images for any city development or planning. 

Smart environmental impact

As a smart city can release less CO2, it will make an eco-friendly environment with less pollution. 

Optimum water and energy management

As the grid stations and the smart water management are the most critical factors in energy production without any pollution, this approach can provide clean water and efficient power to keep the environment clean and eco-friendly without wasting any resources.


The sensors are quite hidden, but the most significant part of the urban city. These are the essential elements of the intelligent control system. To improve a process and control a system efficiently, it is equipped with sensors that collect the data. These sensors utilize the variables for environmental characterization and adjust the operations accordingly. Different sensors enable the applications which were not possible before owing to low availability and higher cost. The sensors act like the converters that convert the variables in the physical form and then transmit an electric signal further interpreted by the technical persons. Such signals for common sensors include the pressure, light, temperature, moisture, humidity and different other parameters. 

the most important application fields where the sensor network is utilized in the smart cities include:

Security and safety

A critical element of smart buildings and cities is to keep residents secure and safe. Sensors provide safety and security with surveillance cameras, flood alarms, fire detection and intrusion alarms. 

Energy monitor and control

The sensors can monitor the light and temperature. They detect the movement and turn the lights on. The air conditioning and heating are optimized in a way not to shed excessive energy. 

Protection of environment

With data collection related to the environment, the smart city can get early high pollution warnings along with various other issues that need immediate action. 

Water management

The most significant cities are responsible for 50% of water wastage due to the pipe’s leakages. When sensors are attached to every pipe, wastage of water or leakage is quickly detected and rectified without any loss.

Geospatial Technology

Everything present and built in the smart city needs to be correct, and this is why a proper and appropriate plan is required. The right strategy is the pre-requisite to the sustainable growth that needs precise and accurate data. To grab the precision in data collection, it requires Geospatial technology that is the necessary foundation for which different solutions are based. The Geospatial technology provides the location that offers precisely the solution according to its need. The Geospatial technology provides the essential framework that collects the data and transforms the collections’ observation to facilitate the software’s answers. 

The Geospatial technology has two most significant technologies that map the earth’s features, including Geographical Information System (GIS) and the Global Positioning System (GPS).


GPS is the navigation system based on satellite and is widely used by different industries such as:

  • Financial services
  • Emergency management 
  • Rail transport and shipping
  • Law enforcement and security
  • Social media
  • Mapping and survey
  • Utilities
  • Transportation and telecommunication

The GPS based systems are present in our lives, including our car and smartphones, to locate nearby places. GPS tracks the aircraft movement in the sky. The law-making authorities use it for address location for fire response, police and disaster management. 

Drones are the one recent technology to utilize GPS for different things from the package delivery to the mapping. Many grocery retailers are also using the shopping carts based upon GPS to follow customers’ movements within supermarkets and find out the shopping habit.  


As most global populations live in cities, and the numbers are expected to grow in the coming years, numerous challenges will arise, such as housing, food, sanitation, and water issues. The only way to prevent these challenges is to derive the Information from the data analysis tools and allow the visualization, integration and communication of Information from the data. 

The GIS allows the visualization, analysis and interpretation of data to understand the patterns, trends and relationships. It offers the framework to make sense for the structured data, and the large streaming data amounts gained by sensors each second and convert it into big data. 

For example, in global health, the cartographic maps are used to unlock mysteries behind the spread and causative agent of a disease such as Ebola, yellow fever and cholera. GIS is becoming one vital tool to study disease epidemics and chronic conditions.

It is also crucial for space programs. The GIS technique has been applied to the already available elevation data from Mars to conduct the future Mars mission. 

Must-Known Statistics Regarding Smart Cities

There have been numerous statistics regarding smart cities for the year. Most of them have been internationally published and have the following highlights:

  • It has been predicted that by the year 2023, the half cities will use the platform that will be relied upon the crowdsourced participation in terms of decision making and city budgeting.
  • The smart city’s investment is seen at the peak by the year 2022 to the $158 billion. The quickest growth will be observed in America.
  • The insufficiency of water is the risk multiplier expected to reduce by the year 2024 due to the installation of IoT-based water management systems. 
  • The sector of utilities is expected to rise as the current energy share from the global smart city market is 15.8%.
  • The global smart city’s spending is expected to reach an astounding $34.5 by the year 2021. 
  • The smart grid’s expected spending in the North American market is expected to rise to $16.8 billion by 2023. Moreover, the capacity of the SouthWest America microgrid is 700 MW. An increase in the installation of smart meters will be carried out in California. 
  • The smart cities will have smart homes, and the market for these smart homes is expected to be near $40.9 billion in 2021. The revenue for the security market of such homes is also expected to rise to $2.58 billion.
  • The transport sector will also observe the higher spending up to $43 billion by this year as the car’s estimated shipment is expected to rise to 82.35 million units. 
  • In the healthcare department, new smart functions will be utilized to diagnose, manage, and treat patients, such as virtual health and telehealth.