12 predictions about the trends that will shape smart cities in 2022

Leaders in our local area are adjusting to big changes that have happened in the past year. Industry people are talking about how our cities will change in the future.

12 predictions about the trends that will shape smart cities in 2022

Leaders in our local area are adjusting to big changes that have happened in the past year. Industry people are talking about how our cities will change in the future.

In 2021, cities had to face many challenges. Leaders had to deal with increasingly dangerous driving behavior, extreme weather events, tense political climates and rising crime rates. In addition, they had to deal with the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Despite the past year's many challenges, some cities managed to make progress in becoming more sustainable and equitable places to live. They did this by increasing investments in cycling and electric vehicle infrastructure, piloting free public transportation, and continuing to help close the digital divide. In the new year, local leaders say they are likely to continue focusing on those initiatives, as well as on cybersecurity, infrastructure, and climate resiliency.

Data and technology will help close the digital divide

We think that in 2022, cities will focus more on using technology to help improve the lives of their residents. This will include using technology to help bridge the digital divide between people who have access to high-speed internet and those who don't.

We expect that data teams who have focused on outreach efforts to help residents understand the benefits of wearing masks and getting vaccinated will leverage the lessons they have learned to create new outreach efforts to expand broadband access, broadband subsidies for low-income users, online literacy programs, and other digital equity efforts.

These teams will rely on both first-party city data sources and open government data sources (like FCC data) to identify digital divide access and outreach via maps and dashboards. Importantly, they'll rely more than ever on technology to show progress against these equity initiatives.

— Clare Epstein, vice president of public sector at Civis Analytics

Cities will need to improve efficiencies at the curb

As we return to our normal lives outside of our homes, it is clear that the demand for online shopping and for items to be delivered to our homes is not going away. Cities will need to implement policies and technologies that help reduce the traffic congestion and pollution that this increased commercial activity brings. Cities like New York City and Omaha are beginning to explore these solutions, which will only become more popular in the next few years.

— Jordan Justus, CEO of Automotus

Cities will make more bold climate commitments

Cities are going to be increasingly important in the fight against climate change. They will need to make commitments like the commitment from Ithaca, New York, to decarbonize 100% of its buildings by 2030. Achieving these goals will require cities to move away from taking isolated actions and towards using integrated solutions that include financing.

— Kate Frucher, managing director at The Clean Fight

The circular economy will take hold in transportation

Nowadays, many entrepreneurs are creating a circular economy. They are doing this with new technologies that reduce waste from packaging and textiles. By 2022, our cities will start to see those circular economy methods being used in the transportation industry. This means that we will see circular design and production through modular design and the use of low-carbon circular materials, circular use through the increased utilization of vehicles, specifically EVs, and circular retirement with a shift from maintenance and planned obsolescence to collection, remanufacturing, and recycling.

— Micah Kotch, managing director at URBAN-X

Cybersecurity defenses will need to grow

Cybersecurity is more important than ever. Ransomware attacks on school systems and hospitals, as well as threats to critical infrastructure, are becoming increasingly common. State and local IT leaders need to focus on data protection by backing up systems regularly, reinforcing basic cybersecurity awareness and education, and revisiting cyber incident response plans often.

— Mike Wiseman, vice president of public sector at Pure Storage

Ransomware attacks will increase

In 2021, ransomware was very successful and caused a lot of damage. This is because malicious actors found a way to be very efficient in their attacks. They were able to keep costs low and take advantage of a repeatable operating model. This model has become so effective that ransomware will continue to be a big problem in 2022. One of the reasons why ransomware attacks have been so common is because it is easy to exchange large sums of money without being traced. Until we get rid of or regulate the cryptocurrency economy, we will continue to see ransomware attacks increase in 2022 and beyond.

— Andrew Rubin, CEO of Illumio

Technology advances will foster stronger trust and civic participation

"Smart city technologies" that are deployed in communities often don't result in more connected communities. People who are supposed to benefit from these technologies (like understanding and trusting them) don't always do because of a fracture between the deployment of these technologies and public participation and feedback.

The pandemic has led to modernization of customer service for public services. This is because new solutions like omnichannel communications and enhanced data insights have become available. As a result, we are going to see smart city technologies that are better than those we have seen in the past. These technologies will be based on 311-style services that use newly trusted and compliant citizen engagement technologies. This will empower communities so they can understand development and shape it themselves, rather than feeling like they are being controlled by sensors they do not always understand or see the value in.

— Justin Herman, global head of public sector at Twilio

Cities will upgrade infrastructure to be more resilient

Now that cities are starting to recover from the pandemic, they need to focus on preparing for natural disasters and climate events. This can be done by investing in technology that makes cities run more smoothly, no matter what the situation is. Cities also need to make sure citizens have access to important services like alternative energy sources and community-based Wi-Fi programs.

— Matthew Britt, general manager of smart cities & communities at Honeywell Building Technologies

E-bikes and shared mobility will continue to advance

There will be more electric bikes in the future. This is because the technology keeps getting better and cheaper. Electric motors and batteries are getting better, so there will be new types of electric vehicles. We will also know more about how shared mobility affects the environment. This might lead to changes in policies and how we build roads and infrastructure.

— Benjie de la Peña, CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Center

EV charging infrastructure will grow and build resilience

As more people buy electric cars, we will see a change in how people charge their cars. People will not always be able to charge their cars at home, so they will need to charge their cars at other places. These places could be the office, retail spaces, or the park. Another thing that will happen is that people will start to understand how important it is to have back-up plans for when the electricity grid fails. This is because of things like natural disasters and extreme weather. So, we will start to see more people using things like microgrids and off-grid solutions to solve this problem.

— Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Beam Global

Wireless power will become prevalent

Adding wireless power to buildings and infrastructure will allow for reduced wiring and maintenance costs. It will also let people power their smart homes and personal gadgets. IoT sensors in these devices can track important data like air quality, temperature, consumption of resources, health, and activities around the city. This will let us streamlined analysis and improvements to be made sooner. Smart cities can use data and technology to become more efficient, productive and environmentally sustainable. By establishing wireless power in smart cities, we can reduce battery and electronic waste. This will increase product lifetimes, make harmful batteries obsolete and enable a more sustainable power source.

— Hatem Zeine, founder and president and CTO of Ossia and creator of Cota Real Wireless Power

Libraries should be a central resource hub

Public libraries should be the central hubs for rebuilding communities in 2022. They can provide workforce development, entrepreneurship resources and opportunities, and a place for positive social change. Library workers are better than the internet for fact-checking because they have access to books and other resources.

— Adam Zand, president and co-founder of The Library Land Project

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