What is the global outlook for Smart cities over the next 12 months?

To talk about the global outlook for smart cities, we first must describe what it means to be a “smart city” and also explain what is Cisco’s vision for cities around the world. Taking a step back, we need to explain the concept of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The Internet of Everything is Cisco’s vision of a connected world, in which People, Data, Processes and Things are all connected and generate added value to everyone, including cities. By 2020 Cisco estimates that we will have about 50 billion smart devices existing all over the world connected to the Internet. This technological transition is called Internet of Things. This path brings unparalleled value of data that Cities can leverage to improve themselves.

Our estimates calculate a total IoE market at $19 Trillion dollars over the next 10 years, in which 4,6 Trillion dollars come from the Public Sector area. That value is the value at stake revenue that comes from various areas within a city. Optimization and creation of new infrastructure services; adoption of new technology within their internal teams; centralization of services and networks; new governance models, managed services, etc.

Cities today are looking to multiple ways to become Smart cities. But what does it mean to become “Smart”? There are multiple layers and angles to address this concept of smart city:

For cities, the main focus and challenge will be how they can better manage their infrastructure in a way that not only enables them to provide better services to their citizens, but also optimize their OPEX and centralize all departmental IT networks, converging them into a single foundational network.

Besides that, being smart is also being sustainable in the way that it focuses on the continuity of the city based on three main pillars: the environmental, the economic, and the social. Many cities today are already investing in accelerators and their startups in a way to generate such innovation and wealth, which will also be key for the city to grow.

Considering the above, cities of today are focusing on the above areas while walking the path to become “smart”:


The will of a group of public officials determined to create a transformational strategy for its city, not only by setting up a digital strategy roadmap, but also how every department will cross-functionally work with each other. Alignment on joint budget and strategic initiatives around economic development is also key as well as monetization strategies for a quick ROI turnaround of their install base.


To understand the current infrastructure of the city and also what is needed to create the foundation of a single unified platform that connects every city department, to serve its city team members as well as citizens. To focus on areas like parking, lighting, traffic, safety and security, operations center, environmental, water and waste management, in order to optimize such areas, which are so critical within the city. Collecting data through sensors, which are processed in the data center to generate value that makes it possible for city officials to make better decisions.


To attract talent and retain highly educated individuals, whilst at the same time, providing e-government/Wi-Fi tools for all citizens within the city to bridge the digital divide and provide more opportunities for everyone to be able to grow and become empowered as an active citizen.


To drive the creation of key legislation that enables these new services to appear in order to simplify bureaucracy in order to allow a better agile set of services. To drive key initiatives that enable a better approximation of the citizens to their government through a participating democracy.


Not only technology partners, that integrate, manage and operate these smart services, but also economic partners, who can drive foreign direct investment into the city, allowing but new job creation, revitalization of the economy and key areas of the city.

Coming back to the initial question, and based on the above context, the global outlook for the next 12 months is going to be very exciting in the smart cities area as we are starting to see a convergence of these key factors that enable cities around the world to become smart. Every city is different in specific use cases, but the ingredients are all there.

We clearly see cities today coming forward with their own structured digital agenda, aligning their several internal departments to meet the needed requirements, set budgetary needs as well as resources and structured planning in order to start working in deploying smart city solutions. All of this while working together with key stakeholders to build an eco-system of partners, subject matter experts, which will help them manage and deploy all of these complex solutions.

Cities today are in competition with each other and the fight is to create the best city in the world that has the very best infrastructure and services, that serves their current citizens, attracts top talent, local and foreign investment and generates wealth. 

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Joel Curado

About Joel Curado

Joel Curado is Part of Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities, an organisation focused in transforming physical communities into connected communities and how technology can be used to improve quality of life in cities. Joel is the Head of PMO for IoE for Cities, focused in setting the methodology to deploy smart city solutions, whilst managing multiple city deployments around the world on smart city solutions. Prior to that, Joel was a product manager focused in creating smart solutions in the cities area. Joel has a BA and post graduate degree in Economics with a background in project and program management.