Smart cities: Emergence of new business models?

Publish date:

Smart cities will eventually deliver true convergence of lifestyle and technology, and improve the overall quality of life for citizens

The term “smart city” has been used widely over these past couple of decades. However, with rapid advancements in technology and evolution of fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, its scope has broadened. A smart city doesn’t merely mean public Wi-Fi and optimized traffic in the present. Rather, it has evolved to encompass all areas that could be improvised to enhance the quality of life of citizens.

In this blog, I would like to take you through three examples that highlight the key characteristics of smart cities developing new business models.

Smart Dubai: Envisioning the happiest city on Earth

Dubai is becoming a global leader in pioneering smart city initiatives. The city has already been selected as the pilot city by the United Nations (UN) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to develop an index for smart cities. Happiness is at the core of Dubai government’s smart city strategy.

  • Smart Dubai’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab, established in partnership with IBM, aims to integrate AI into government services and city experiences in order to improve citizens’ overall quality of life. The Dubai government has also set up a dedicated Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, which is one of its kind.
  • The smart city launched the first government-endorsed blockchain Platform-as-a-Service – the Dubai Blockchain Platform. The platform will transform and digitize processes and services, and integrate into citizens’ day-to-day lives. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy aims to build the world’s first fully digitized government by 2021.
  • UAEPASS is a single, nation-wide digital identity for all citizens, residents, and visitors. It enables access to government services, helps users make transactions, as well as sign documents digitally. UAEPASS allows mobile-based authentication to validate identity using a smartphone.
  • The DubaiNow app is a unified government services app launched by the Smart Dubai initiative that provides round-the-clock government and private sector services to the citizens, anywhere, anytime, without having to visit the government service centers.

Hong Kong: The smart city with the smart six

In its vision to build a sustainable and smart Hong Kong, the city has formulated six elements as the focal points of its long-term strategy. These are: mobility, living, environment, people, government, and economy. These focus areas are well supported by the three pillars of governance, technology, and partnerships.

  • To facilitate smart mobility, in-vehicle units (IVUs), which will allow remote payment of tunnel fees and serve the dual purpose of eliminating toll booths while catering to seamless road transport, are being deployed. IVUs will also enable parking fee payment at public car parks.
  • Multi-functional smart lamp posts facilitate real-time collection and processing of city data such as weather, air quality information and vehicle flow via IoT sensors. Smart lamp posts go a step beyond smart lighting systems to provide facilities such as Wi-Fi hotspots, car parking information, and electric vehicle charging points.
  • Electronic identity or eID will be a single digital identity for authenticating government and commercial transactions online.
  • Smart tourism is facilitated by leveraging technology at airport and express railway stations. Initiatives are focused on enhancing tourist experience through a smart airport, smart lamp posts, and a Wi-Fi connected city. Smart airport, for instance would deploy facial biometrics during check-in and boarding, and expand mobile check-in services to hotels and restaurants with baggage pick-up services.

Palava: Private investments driving smart cities initiatives

Envisioned to become the largest privately planned city in India, the Palava Smart City Project is an initiative by the Lodha Group from Mumbai. Palava offers a “Work-Live-Learn-Play” environment, again focusing on quality of life. Palava aims to become a $10 billion economy by 2025, with a working population of around 50%.

  • With its unique “Just Ask” service, the Palava City Management Association (PCMA) provides businesses with a single-window service to obtain permits and permissions. Palava provides 100% support for businesses until the start of operations, from design and construction to management and government approvals.
  • The “Walk-to-Work” initiative in Palava is already underway. With a 150,000 sq. ft. commercial complex with ample facilities already operational, and with a dedicated business district planned for major office industries upcoming, the city will be able to support 100,000 quality jobs, making it easier for people to cycle and walk to work.
  • Palava has privately managed quality smart transport system for its residents travelling to key business destinations across Mumbai, as well as nearby transportation hubs.
  • Palava offers its citizens an opportunity to participate and engage in the city management through “smart governance.” A resident can raise a ticket through mobile app for resolving any issue and the response can be tracked through the app.
  • The city is planning to roll out smart cards for the citizens, which will enable cashless transactions at retail centers, access to buildings, commercial points, bus services, and information. 

It’s evident from these three examples that smart cities will eventually deliver a true convergence of lifestyle and technology, and improve the overall quality of life for citizens.

I’d love to hear what you have to say about these new business models in smart cities. Feel free to connect with me on social media for a conversation.


Related Posts


Why blockchain is here to stay on the roadmap of digital healthcare

Shyamsree Nandi
Date icon March 22, 2021

Blockchain is inherently wired with three central schemes of zero knowledge proof,...


How DER can help utilities reach net zero

Ajay Verma
Date icon March 15, 2021

Among the biggest renewable developments in recent years are privatization and the unbundling...

Artificial Intelligence

Next-generation healthcare – Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) in the Intelligent Industry

Vivek Jaykrishnan
Date icon February 5, 2021

In the last 20 years, technological innovation – both within and around medical devices –...