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Smart City Adoption Timeline

Smart City Adoption Timeline

Strategic Imperative: The smart city movement has been gaining momentum over the past decade, forging new partnerships between public and private sectors. To some extent, however, the smart city market has been restrained due to multiple factors, including:

• The nascent nature of many smart city solutions and the need to verify ROI prior to wider uptake by budget-conscious cities
• Cities delaying the development of cohesive smart city visions and strategies
• Lack of multi-stakeholder buy-in to support smart city initiatives
• A shortage of adequate and compelling funding models and resources
• Siloed city agencies hindering the ability to coordinate initiatives

Despite these initial roadblocks, the smart city movement is approaching a tipping point. Whereas the prior decade was characterized by numerous pilot projects and the dominance of a select group of innovator cities, the coming decade will see widespread uptake of smart city solutions, especially in midsize cities. The smart city market will top over $2.4 trillion in 2025, presenting significant opportunities for solution providers operating within the smart city space.

For solution providers seeking greater precision in their smart city strategies, the critical question becomes how best to initially determine when a city is likely to become receptive to the smart city concept.

Building off the premise that three precipitating factors will play a large role in determining the pace of smart city adoption, the smart city adoption timeline applies these factors to a data set for more than 150 cities. These determining factors include population strain, relative city wealth, and smart city readiness (in terms of infrastructure and technology). For instance, in terms of population strain, it is assumed that cities with very large existing populations and/or fast growth rates are more likely to experience population-related stressors sooner than other urban areas. Thus, they are more likely to invest in the smart city concept. In terms of relative wealth, it is assumed that cities with access to more financial resources—particularly a stronger tax and consumer base—will generally adopt smart city solutions more quickly than other cities in their respective countries. And, in terms of infrastructure and technology readiness, it is assumed that the state of a city’s transport, energy, water, and telecommunications infrastructure also plays a part in determining the timeframe of smart city solution adoption. Once examined according to these high-level factors, cities are then mapped onto an anticipated timeline for smart city adoption. While the timeline is global in scope, only cities from high-income countries are considered due to availability of data for a large sample of cities across all three factors. Regions covered include North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, and Latin America.


  • Executive Summary
    • Key Takeaways and Visionary Innovation's Perspective
    • Research Scope
    • The Visionary Innovation Smart City Subscription
  • Smart City Adoption Timeline
    • Smart City Classification
    • Smart City Parameters
    • Smart City Parameters-Example Smart City Technologies*
    • Smart City Adoption Overview
    • Precipitating Smart City Factors-Population Strain
    • Precipitating Smart City Factors-Relative City Wealth
    • Precipitating Smart City Factors-Infrastructure and Technological Readiness
    • Smart City Adoption Timeline-Methodology
    • Smart City Adoption Timeline-The United States
    • Smart City Adoption Timeline-Other High-income Economies
  • The Last Word
    • The Last Word-3 Key Takeaways
  • Appendix

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