I am amazed at the anticipated speed and size of the proliferation of the internet of things. The world currently has over 13 billion connected devices, which is both an unfathomable number and a huge business opportunity. But by 2020, connected devices are anticipated to reach over 50 billion. These devices will allow us to more easily share information, more effectively manage our families and homes, and bring massive cost saving and efficiencies to our businesses and cities.
In doing so, the internet of things will create a competitive environment which we at Thing Big call Community-based Darwinism in which cities (and even countries) will need to vie for and maintain competitive advantages in the new connected world. This model will call for the survival of the fittest ecosystems in the global competition for the future knowledge worker and a share of the expected over $9 trillion in annual global GDP that will come from internet of things innovations.
In this new environment, the past will be irrelevant, geography will be transcended, traditional technologies won’t work, aggregated data and metadata will create new companies and industries, costs will decrease or be eliminated, and an innovative idea will be scaled globally, instantly changing (and in some instances eliminating) historical industries and ecosystems (e.g. Nest and Uber).
We are most intellectually curious about the prospects of the smart, connected city. From what we gather, in the future,
- smart cities will be innovative cities
- competition will come less from countries, but smart cities with innovative, yet highly mobile, workforces
- cities that fail to attract and keep knowledge workers will eventually whither
- cities will have to view technology as an invaluable and fundamental utility
- cities will have to change their mind set around planning. Historically city planning was physical – build roads and civic institutions. Community-based Darwinism will dictate that cutting-edge, digital architecture must be created and maintained. Broadband infrastructure will only be a prerequisite
- silo maintenance within established governmental, regulatory and private sector environments will stifle the ability to deploy vital future technologies
- deploying a smart, connected city platform around a vision of what a city can be will become essential
- proof of civic commitment (in both the public and private sector) to becoming a smart, connected city will determine which cities advance in the pending queue for the attention of global technology firms that will be an essential part of smart, connected city deployments
- cities deploying the internet of things will attract more skilled workforces, lower crime rates, improve civic services, lower the cost of living and improve the standard of living of their citizenry and become models for other cities to emulate
- citizens of smart, connected cities will find some increased level of happiness from and opportunity within their improved communities and will therefore stay and attract others.
The great philosopher Farris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.” The internet of things and the smart, connected city is upon us. It’s moving pretty fast. I don’t want to miss it.
We look forward to looking around and exploring the market for smart, connected cities; the pre-requisites of becoming a city of the future; the example cities of today; the technology they are deploying; and the expectations of things to come.