These are some of the segments that these startups are attacking:
- Parking – Startups are improving the efficiency with which we park our cars, doing everything from booking (ParkWhiz), parking analytics (Parkifi), and smart metering (MeterFeeder).
- Grid/Energy – These companies are using analytics, algorithms, and connectivity to keep supply and demand for electricity in balance.
- Data-Driven Urban Planning – These companies are providing access to new, hyperlocal data about our cities and helping planners understand neighborhood needs better.
- Smarter Transport – Startups that are making our existing transport smart (Zubie, Vinli), creating new smart vehicles (Ather Energy), new public transit options powered by data (Bridj, Shuttl), or smart bike-sharing programs (Zagster).
- Environmental Sensors – Companies that are developing hardware to better understand our urban environment, from weather data, to pollution, to ambient sound.
- Connectivity – Startups that are using different means to provide internet, connections, and infrastructure for new networks.
- Waste Management – Using data and connected devices to optimize waste collection.
- Traffic/Transit Data – Private companies that are using mobile and sensors to provide analytics around commutes and congestion.
- Water Usage/Quality – Tools that help to analyze the traffic of water in our cities.
Every week, it seems, another city announces plans to become the next “smart city,” be greener than Kentucky bluegrass, and get hitched up to the Internet of Things. But what exactly makes a metropolis a truly intelligent and connected one? Is it employing a chief data officer? Installing sensors in every traffic light and parking space and adding a few more nodes to the Internet of Things? Building apps that make it easier for citizens to access public services?
This summer Google announced the launch of Sidewalk Labs, a venture with the nebulous mission of improving city living through technology. IBM, Cisco, and Intel have launched similar smart-city platforms—grids that will connect all of the data that municipalities generate from Internet-connected devices. With urban populations around the globe projected to double by 2050, new connected technologies promise to make cities more sustainable, cleaner, safer, and more vibrant.