How the Internet of Things is Building Smart Cities
Urban populations are rising around the world, but cities are struggling to keep up.
As the silent force that has revolutionized our world, technology is now being leveraged to manage rapid urbanization and to create smarter cities.
Today’s infographic from Raconteur explores how the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a vital component in the creation of more efficient, sustainable, and resilient cities, and illustrates the growing impact this will have on both people and the planet.
The Growth of Smart Cities
Since 1950, the amount of people living in cities has risen almost six-fold, from 751 million to over 4 billion in 2018—more than half of the planet’s population. Over the next three decades, cities are projected to add yet another 2.5 billion more people.
This continuing migration to urban areas puts greater pressure on public services as well as urban planning. As a result, cities are implementing solutions driven by technology and data to reduce the added strain created by this growth.
Smart City Innovations
With spending on smart city development to reach $158 billion by 2022, significant growth is expected from emerging innovations such as:
- Officer wearables:
Devices that equip police officers with real-time information to improve awareness and make better decisions
Global CAGR (2017-2022): 62%
- Vehicle to everything (V2X) connectivity:
Allows cars to communicate with other cars, transport infrastructure, and pedestrians
Global CAGR (2017-2022): 49%
- Open data:
Data that anyone can access that contributes to the transparency of government and smart city initiatives
Global CAGR (2017-2022): 25%
- Smart trash collection:
Solar powered, sensor-equipped smart bins allow waste collectors to track waste levels and optimize their fuel usage
Global CAGR (2017-2022): 23%
- Smart city platforms:
Systems that collect data from different areas such as pollution levels and traffic density to better manage smart cities
Global CAGR (2017-2022): 23%
These technologies could lead to a wide-range of transformative effects for cities that are willing to embrace them.
Measuring the Impact
Smart city technologies have the power to improve the health and well-being of citizens, while also providing new avenues for economic development.
To enhance public safety, cities are adopting real-time crime mapping, gunshot detection, and predictive policing tools to help identify potential hotspots and prevent crimes from happening.
According to McKinsey, tapping into these technologies could reduce crime rates and fatalities by 8-10%, potentially saving up to 300 lives each year in cities with a population size and crime rate similar to Rio de Janeiro.
As more vehicles join the IoT ecosystem, the bigger the IoT logistics and transportation industry grows, with spending estimated to reach over $43 billion by the end of this year.
New innovations like smart roads that support automated vehicles are beginning to get more investment from cities. These roads will be able to communicate with automated vehicles to ensure the safety of drivers, and better optimize traffic—potentially decreasing the average commute time by 30 minutes.
Technology is providing new strategies for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
In China, drones with facial recognition technology are being used to track those affected with coronavirus to ensure they do not break quarantine and risk spreading the virus.
The most effective use of technology however, is data-based health interventions for maternal and child health, which rely on the use of analytics to identity new mothers and to direct prenatal and postnatal educational campaigns to them. Using interventions to prevent diseases before they occur has proven to be particularly effective in cities with a high disease burden and low access to care, such as Lagos in Nigeria.
These new technologies are reducing cities’ burden of chronic disease. This is measured across the WHO’s central metric disability-adjusted life years (DALY), which is equal to one year of “healthy” life lost due to contracting a disease. For example, using data-based interventions for maternal care could reduce DALYs by more than 5%.
While a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, these can be cut by up to 15% with smart city solutions by reducing electricity and heat production.
Smart cities will also play a pivotal role in reducing water consumption. Applications such as smart irrigation systems, water leakage, and quality and consumption monitoring could save a city between 25-80 liters of water per person, per day.
Citizen-Led Smart Cities
The growing uptake of 5G can help fuel these economic and social benefits. With its high-speed connectivity and ability to support more devices, 5G could empower smart cities to scale—making it a defining feature in the next generation of innovative smart city projects. However, this is not the only model that can be leveraged.
Some newer iterations of smart cities are grounded in the principles of equity and social inclusion. For instance, Vienna regularly tops the Smart Cities Index for its inclusive and collaborative way of approaching smart city initiatives. The city advocates for socially-balanced solutions that consider citizens from all socio-economic backgrounds and age groups.
Vienna is just one of many European hubs that are leading the way in the sheer volume of smart city project investments. In fact, the continent is expected to have as many as 53 million active IoT connections by 2025.
While every city has a different strategy, citizens will prove to be their most important asset. With a flurry of exciting new smart city applications becoming the new normal over the next decade, it is clear that humans will be at the heart of actualizing their true potential.
Ranked: The Most Innovative Companies in 2021
In today’s fast-paced market, companies have to be innovative constantly. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.
Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2021
This year has been rife with pandemic-induced changes that have shifted corporate priorities—and yet, innovation has remained a top concern among corporations worldwide.
Using data from the annual ranking done by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) using a poll of 1,600 global innovation professionals, this graphic ranks the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.
We’ll dig into a few of the leading companies, along with their innovative practices, below.
Most Innovative Companies: A Breakdown of the Leaderboard
To create the top 50 innovative company ranking, BCG uses four variables:
- Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
- Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
- Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
- Value Creation: Total share return.
For the second year in a row, Apple claims the top spot on this list. Here’s a look at the full ranking for 2021:
|Company||Industry||HQ||Change from 2020|
|3||Amazon||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||--|
|5||Tesla||Transport & Energy||🇺🇸 U.S.||+6|
|6||Samsung||Technology||🇰🇷 South Korea||-1|
|9||Sony||Consumer Goods||🇯🇵 Japan||--|
|12||LG Electronics||Consumer Goods||🇰🇷 South Korea||+6|
|14||Alibaba||Consumer Goods||🇨🇳 China||-7|
|17||Cisco Systems||Technology||🇺🇸 U.S.||-5|
|18||Target||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+4|
|19||HP Inc.||Technology||🇺🇸 U.S.||-4|
|20||Johnson & Johnson||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||+6|
|21||Toyota||Transport & Energy||🇯🇵 Japan||+20|
|23||Walmart||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||-10|
|24||Nike||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||-8|
|25||Lenovo||Technology||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Return|
|26||Tencent||Consumer Goods||🇨🇳 China||-12|
|27||Procter & Gamble||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+12|
|28||Coca-Cola||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||+20|
|29||Abbott Labs||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||New|
|30||Bosch||Transport & Energy||🇩🇪 Germany||+3|
|32||Ikea||Consumer Goods||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Return|
|33||Fast Retailing||Consumer Goods||🇯🇵 Japan||Return|
|34||Adidas||Consumer Goods||🇩🇪 Germany||Return|
|35||Merck & Co.||Healthcare||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|37||Ebay||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|38||PepsiCo||Consumer Goods||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|39||Hyundai||Transport & Energy||🇰🇷 South Korea||Return|
|41||Inditex||Consumer Goods||🇪🇸 Spain||Return|
|44||Disney||Media & Telecomms||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
|45||Mitsubishi||Transport & Energy||🇯🇵 Japan||New|
|46||Comcast||Media & Telecomms||🇺🇸 U.S.||New|
|47||GE||Transport & Energy||🇺🇸 U.S.||Return|
One company worth touching on is Pfizer, a returnee from previous years that ranked 10th in this year’s ranking. It’s no surprise that Pfizer made the list, considering its instrumental role in the fight against COVID-19. In partnership with BioNTech, Pfizer produced a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. This is impressive considering that, historically, vaccine development could take up to a decade to complete.
Pfizer is just one of four COVID-19 vaccine producers to appear on the list this year—Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca also made the cut.
Meanwhile, in a completely different industry, Toyota snagged the 21st spot on this year’s list, up 20 places compared to the rankings in the previous year. This massive jump can be signified by the company’s recent $400 million investment into a company set to build flying electric cars.
While we often think of R&D and innovation as being synonymous, the former is just one innovation technique that’s helped companies earn a spot on the list. Other companies have innovated in different ways, like streamlining processes to increase efficiency.
For instance, in 2021, Coca-Cola performed an analysis of their beverage portfolio and ended up cutting their brand list in half, from 400 to 200 global brands. This ability to pare down and pivot could be a reason behind its 20 rank increase from 2020.
Innovation Creates Value
As this year’s ranking indicates, innovation comes in many forms. But, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there is one fairly consistent innovation trend—the link between innovation and value.
In fact, according to historical data from BCG, the correlation between value and innovation has grown even stronger over the last two decades.
For example, in 2020, a portfolio that was theoretically invested in BCG’s most innovative companies would have performed 17% better than the MSCI World Index—which wasn’t the case back in 2005.
And yet, despite innovation’s value, many companies can’t reap the benefits that innovation offers because they aren’t ready to scale their innovative practices.
The Innovation Readiness Gap
BCG uses several metrics to gauge a company’s “innovation readiness,” such as the strength of its talent and culture, its organization ecosystems, and its ability to track performance.
According to BCG’s analysis, only 20% of companies surveyed were ready to scale on innovation.
What’s holding companies back from reaching their innovation potential? The most significant gap seems to be in what BCG calls innovation practices—things like project management or the ability to execute an idea that’s both efficient and consistent with an overarching strategy.
To overcome this obstacle, BCG says companies need to foster a “one-team mentality” to increase interdepartmental collaboration and align team incentives, so everyone is working towards the same goal.
Timeline: Looking Back at 10 Years of Snapchat
A high level look at Snapchat’s 10-year history, including user growth, innovative product design, and the twists and turns along the way.
Looking Back at 10 Years of Snapchat
Over the years, many ideas have emerged from the dorm rooms at Stanford University, but not all of them evolve into billion dollar companies.
Snapchat, however, has beaten the odds. The company’s stock has recently shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic, a bright spot in a decade of highs and lows.
The graphic above is a high level look at Snapchat’s 10-year history, including user growth and financials. Snapchat’s wild ride from start-up to massive success is well documented, so we’ll focus on key elements of story—product design, the Facebook rivalry—and look at how the company is doing today now that the hype surrounding the app has died down.
But first, a quick history…
Setting the Scene
Snapchat originally began its life as a project called Picaboo in 2011.
Cofounders Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, who were attending Stanford, began building an app that could send photos that disappear after a certain amount of time.
Picaboo was renamed Snapchat in 2012, and by the end of that year, it was clear that the start-up was onto something big. A $13.5 million Series A financing in early 2013 helped fuel the company’s explosive growth.
Positive Momentum: Product Design
One of Snapchat’s biggest strengths over the years has been innovative product design. Many of the features we now see baked into every social app originated from Snapchat.
Here’s a quick rundown of Snapchat’s key feature and product development over the past decade.
Of all the features listed above, the concept of stories is perhaps the most significant contribution to the digital landscape. Disappearing short-form videos started off as a messaging tool, but ended up transforming the way people share their lives online.
As well, the forward-looking acquisition of Looksery in 2015, helped introduce millions of people to augmented reality (AR). AR continues to be a major growth driver for Snapchat today, as advertisers embrace the Lenses feature.
Negative Momentum: Facebook Rivalry
To Mark Zuckerberg’s credit, he realized the potential of Snapchat early.
When the company was only one year old, the Facebook CEO offered the Snapchat founders $60 million to buy the company. When they rejected the offer, Facebook almost immediately launched an app called Poke which was extremely similar to Snapchat’s offering. You’d be forgiven for not knowing what Poke is, as the app received a tepid reception and was quietly shut down in 2014.
“I hope you enjoy Poke.” – Mark Zuckerberg, in an email to Evan Spiegel
For Snapchat, Poke was a blessing in disguise as it brought even more attention to their growing app. Mark Zuckerberg, however, was not done trying to steal the company’s thunder. After offering $3 billion in cash to purchase Snapchat (the offer was once again rebuffed), Facebook copied a number of features from Snapchat and integrated them into Instagram.
Stories were a massive hit for Instagram, and Snapchat, which could not yet match Instagram’s scale, took a big hit. Growth began to slow noticeably after that Instagram update.
Snapchat hit rock bottom in 2018 after shares dropped below the $5 mark, and user growth had stalled out. As well, underwhelming sales of Snapchat’s Spectacles product garnered negative press and hurt the brand’s “cool factor”.
Today though, the situation looks much different. The app still has a strong market share with the younger demographic, and close to 300 million daily active users. Snapchat was one of the many digital companies to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic (or, at least, the increase in digital content consumption), and the share price has rocketed to new highs. One other promising indicator is the company’s rising average revenue per user, or ARPU.
Of course, as the last 10 years have shown, success is not guaranteed. TikTok is still a significant competitor with a lot of momentum, and tastes can change quickly in the digital world. That said, there is a positive path forward for Snap Inc.
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