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Coalition explores impact of smart cities

The research programme aims to go deeper than current urban research by benchmarking smart city progress across 100 cities worldwide

Smarter Cities 2025 aims to provide city leaders with a roadmap to smart succcess
Smarter Cities 2025 aims to provide city leaders with a roadmap to smart succcess

ESI ThoughtLab has announced the launch of Smarter Cities 2025, an urban transformation research programme to be conducted in conjunction with a cross-sector coalition of organisations.


Entitled Building a sustainable business and financing plan, the aim of the programme is to provide city leaders with a roadmap to becoming a successful smart city of the future.


Using evidence-based analysis, the study will produce best practice insights and a business case for urban transformation as well as provide city leaders with advanced analytical tools for driving innovation, growth, and prosperity.


According to ESI ThoughtLab, Smarter Cities 2025 will go deeper than current urban research by benchmarking smart city progress across 100 cities worldwide. It will quantify the full benefits of smart city initiatives for citizens, businesses, and government, while identifying the business and financing models that will ensure sustainable results.


“The convergence of digitisation, globalisation, and demographic change is redefining the urban landscape and how people shop, work, travel and live,” said Lou Celi, program director and CEO of ESI ThoughtLab.


“Businesses with a stake in the future of cities are fast developing innovative solutions to meet the new realities of urban life and digital commerce. Without a clear playbook for the future, cities run the risk of falling far behind their local stakeholders and losing their competitiveness.”


ESI ThoughtLab’s urban economists will develop the Smarter Cities 2025 programme in conjunction with a coalition consists of eight corporate sponsors with a stake in the future of cities: Accenture; Cognizant; Exelon; Ferrovial Services; GM; Mastercard, Oracle, and Pennoni.


It also includes an international group of research advisors specialising in urban analysis, including experts affiliated with institutions including the Penn Institute of Urban Research, the Smart Cities Council, Sogang University School of Economics, Meeting of the Minds and Renaissance Urbaine.


Building on the intellectual capital of the coalition, as well as rigorous economic analysis, urban performance benchmarking, and cost-benefit modelling, the ESI ThoughtLab-led research programme will help public- and private-sector decision-makers answer today’s most pressing urban questions:

  • How will technological, demographic, and market shifts transform the behavior of consumers and businesses in cities?
  • What steps are successful smart cities taking across different dimensions -- such as governance, infrastructure, and mobility -- to meet the needs of local citizens and businesses?
  • In what ways will cities innovate to improve economic opportunity, prosperity, and living standards for citizens across income levels in the future?
  • How will forward-looking cities harness smarter technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the sharing economy, blockchain, Internet of Things, and biometrics to drive performance?
  • What can cities do to transform themselves into future business hubs of talent and innovation? Which smart city initiatives and skill sets will be most important in the future?
  • What are the most effective business plans for creating and funding the smart city of the future? What ROI should citizens, businesses, and governments expect?

ESI ThoughtLab will conduct the research over a six-month period and plans to release the results, including a white paper and a city benchmarking and performance impact platform in the autumn of 2018.


“By pooling the intellectual capital and economic resources of our research coalition, we will be able to help cities around the world reach their full potential,” added Dr Richard Voith, co-programme director and president of Econsult Solutions, Inc (ESI).


“In addition, this initiative will help nurture the implementation of the sustainable development goals, including SDG 11 and the new urban agenda.”


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