30 Mar, 2021 / Victoria Gombert Article

The Top Four Drivers for Smart City Initiatives _

It's predicted that 70% of global population will live in cities by 2050, while the United Nations estimate there will be an absolute water shortage for 2 billion people by 2025.

It's crucial that globally our Cities become Smarter through Technology to Maintain our Quality of Life.

Cities have always competed to provide services to their citizens that support a quality of life and maintain city standards, but it will become increasingly harder for cities to do this without first becoming smarter and managing their resources more intelligently through innovative technological solutions. The need for smart cities has been well discussed in the existing literature and four areas are emerging as the key drivers for change.

1) The impact urbanisation has on the environment; 

2) The growing demand on scarce resources;

3) The rapid rate of urbanisation globally; and

4) The need to maintain citizens standards of living and quality of life.

Driver 1. Environmental Impact of Increasing Urbanisation.

With the increased demand on limited resources and growing population levels, the need to reduce a city’s environmental impact is ever present. Cities have largely contributed to environmental degradation on local, national and global scales, with studies demonstrating accountability for 60 – 80% of global energy consumption and 70% of global greenhouse gases (Rana, 2018, p. 48). Climate change, poor waste management, inadequate maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructures, and increasing urbanisation can lead to water scarcity, water pollution, detrimental health effects on citizens, flooding and extreme rehabilitation costs. 

Cities are accountable for 60 – 80% of global energy consumption and 70% of global greenhouse gases.

The present literature supports the notion that smart cities can better manage a cities resources causing less of an environmental impact, increasing city resilience and its capacity to respond to environmental threats. Other examples of smart city use cases for reducing environmental impact include monitoring of air and water pollution, energy consumption, waste management and traffic congestion management. Plug in electric vehicles can decrease environmental impact through lowered CO2 emissions, particularly when coupled with renewable energy technology (Meyer & Wang, 2018, p. 3).

Driver 2. Our Growing Demand on Scarce Resources.

It will be imperative to monitor and manage cities limited resources like energy, water and land. Koop & Leeuwen (2016, p. 386) states that with the rapid rate of urbanisation and continued exponential growth of some countries, the demand on a cities natural resources will also continue to grow rapidly. The United Nations estimates that there will be an absolute water shortage for 2 billion people in 2025, with estimates that by 2030 there will be 40% more demand for water than is available. 

Large areas of rich agricultural land nourished by groundwater is becoming depleted. Sanitation is a challenge for 2.5 billion people worldwide, leading to continued mortality without improvement (Koop & Leeuwen, 2016, pp. 393 - 394). Intelligent management of natural resources is a necessity for cities who will have the same or less resources available in the future than today, but with growing demand from increased urbanisation. 

The United Nations estimates that there will be an absolute water shortage for 2 billion people by 2025.

Sustainable water management has been recognised as a major factor for smart cities, with the World Economic Forum ranking water crisis and water-related risks as major global risks for both impact and probability (Koop & Leeuwen, 2016, p. 394). Sustainable water management is also high priority for other international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Driver 3. The Rapid Rate of Urbanisation.

Cities are at the forefront of discussions around the evolution of society due to the ongoing and rapid growth of urbanisation. Europe alone may reach 80% of its population living in cities by 2050, while it's predicted that worldwide 70% of the total population will live in cities by 2050. 

We need around 500 new cities to accommodate the increase in urbanisation by 2050.

The world population increase shows patterns that suggest population rises of one billion people by 2030, increasing to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Rana (2018, p. 47) predicts the need for around 500 new cities to accommodate the increase in urbanisation by 2050 alone, and these cities need to 'intelligently' manage their resources.

Driver 4. To Maintain and Improve Quality of Life for Urban Living.

Citizens expect a maintained standard of living and quality of life from the cities they live in. For cities to continue to provide and improve standards of living, they need to become smart cities (Rana, 2018, p. 47; Degbelo, et al., 2016, p. 3). 

Cities need to become smarter in order to maintain and increase standards of living.

Understanding and taking action on what citizens sense and perceive through data is one way of improving the quality of life in cities, however the present literature also demonstrates quality of life can be improved through generating time-savings, creating safer cities through crime reduction, increased education levels, information availability and citizen empowerment and engagement (Degbelo, et al., 2016, pp. 6 – 7; Hashema, et al., 2016, p. 752; Stanescu, Sanduleac, & Stanescu, 2017, p. 2931).

Smart city initiatives are imperative to create positive change for our future.

The time is now for cities worldwide to take action and begin planning for smart city initiatives that will create positive change for our future. We believe that using technology for smart city initiatives will serve a greater purpose in this movement by securing a cities competitiveness and quality of living standards.

How we can help

Xode Software is keen to partner with City Councils and other kiwi businesses with complimentary services who see the value and positive impact that smart resource management can provide to ensure New Zealand city living standards are not only maintained, but increased for our future generations. 



Degbelo, A., Granell, C., Trilles, S., Bhattacharya, D., Casteleyn, S., & Kray, C. (2016). Opening up Smart Cities: Citizen-Centric Challenges and Opportunities from GIScience. International Journal of Geo Information, 1 - 25. 

Hashema, I. A., b, V. C., a, N. B., Adewolea, K., Yaqooba, I., a, A. G., . . . Chiromac, H. (2016). The role of big data in smart city. International Journal of Information Management, 748 - 758. 

Koop, S. H., & Leeuwen, C. J. (2016). The challenges of water, waste and climate change in cities. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 385 - 418. 

Meyer, D., & Wang, J. (2018). Integrating ultra-fast charging stations within the power grids of smart cities: a review. IET Smart Grid, 3 - 10. 

Rana, D. P. (2018). SMART CITIES: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES IN URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE. Global Journal for Research Analysis, 47 - 49. 

Stanescu, D., Sanduleac, M., & Stanescu, C. (2017). Unbundled meters can boost smart city project. CIRED - Open Access Proceedings Journal, 2931 - 2934.