Stop! In case you would like to be surprised in 2017 by how cities transform, we suggest you navigate away from this post as it contains spoilers!


Every year the International Data Corporation (IDC) issues a prediction around upcoming smart cities trends worldwide.

Below we are presenting 5 of these predictions together with more insight into some and further resources. Be warned there are 5 more to come next week.

Prediction 1: By 2019, countries with 50% of their midsize to large cities in the repeatable stage or higher of smart city maturity will be more successful in country digitisation efforts.

Thus it is cities who are the ones to lead governments on the path of country digitisation. Digitization contributes to incremental economic growth: countries that are at the most advanced stage of digitisation obtain 20% more in economic benefits than those at the initial stage. Digitization reduces unemployment, improves quality of life, and boosts citizens’ access to public services. Finally, digitisation enables governments to operate with greater transparency and efficiency. (PWC 2012)

Cities are the new laboratories of the 21st Century. They know what they need better than the national government does.
— Louis Zacharilla, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF)
Smart Cities Maturity Model  Stages - developed by UrbanTide in partnership with the Scottish Government, Scottish Cities Alliance and the 7 Scottish cities, 2014.

Smart Cities Maturity Model Stages - developed by UrbanTide in partnership with the Scottish Government, Scottish Cities Alliance and the 7 Scottish cities, 2014.

Prediction 2: By 2017, 75% of cities worldwide will fail to take full advantage of smart city data and digital assets due to a lack of process, project management, and change management skills.

Data is the currency of a smart city and it is key that cities learn to take advantage of this invaluable asset.

Today data-driven governments face challenges of poor data quality, the difficulty of convincing stakeholders to embrace open data, implementing proper open data procedures, and the challenges of pulling and integrating data from legacy IT systems. One way to take more advantage of smart city data is to invest in a data sharing platform, that could transform the way organisations and cities share their data. (USMART 2017).

Further contributing to bridging the skill gap are various training programmes. The Scottish Government recently run an open data training pilot series for public sector organisations.

More about the training and the results here.


Prediction 3: In 2018, cities will spend 2x more with partners that are committed to open APIs, sharing data, and long-term relationships.

Co-operation, instead of competition is key in building smart cities, and public-private partnerships are crucial for creating sustainable and strong data infrastructures. There is an ever-growing emphasis on and an increasing number of private sector players working with cities and public sector organisations' open data, recognising the innovation and business growth potential open data can unlock. Actively engaging the private sector in the open data value-chain is considered an innovation imperative. Identifying mechanisms for catalysing private sector engagement and innovation in the open data value chain is key and is backed by organisations such as the World Bank and the Centre for Open Data Enterprise.

More on this topic here.

Prediction 4: By 2019, 50% of open data initiatives will evolve to provide both free and monetized data services as cities test data revenue models and seek to justify open data investments.

In the meantime, while governments develop necessary business models and infrastructures to monetize their data, open data can already save organisations hundreds and thousands of £. This is achieved by reducing the number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, making operations more transparent and efficient. (UrbanTide 2016)

The next step in transforming open data or data into a revenue stream for cities is exposing data in a manner that business can easily re-use. There is a growing demand for a platform of data reuse (including open data) which also provides tools to allow data providers and data consumers to Transform data, supporting increased use for business intelligence, innovation, service improvement, open publication. Gartner predicts that 20% of all local government organisations will generate revenue from value-added open data through data marketplaces by 2020.

Prediction 5: City IT systems are attractive cyber targets, and in 2017, at least one midsize to large city will suffer a cyber attack that will impact its ability to effectively function for 1 day

Smart cities use IT, IoT (Internet of Things) and various data solutions to manage a wide range of city services, including smart transportation, smart traffic control devices, sensors, CCTV cameras, wastewater treatment plants, grids and more. Many cities, for example, are deploying IoT devices to join the smart city revolution without fully analysing and comprehending how secure these technologies are.

More on this topic here.

The cybersecurity of a smart city involves both strategic planning for future cities and the recognition of issues in cities that already have ’smart’ components.
— Securing Smart Cities