Trends that are transforming and shaping smart cities in 2021

As local leaders continue to adapt to the extraordinary changes of the past year, industry players share how they anticipate cities will evolve.

In 2020, smart city developments were greatly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, as social distancing required more contactless interactions when accessing public services or making transactions. Public safety was the major issue and accelerated improvements in infrastructure, expansion of partnership networks and digitization of priority environments such as public transport.

For the year 2021, foundational technologies were still a part of this transformation. Meanwhile, the latest trends and technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and 5G have taken center stage in this transformational journey.

Public safety continued to be the number one priority as the pandemic continued. Therefore, contactless and cashless technologies continued to focus on the digitization of public transport ticketing services through the use of bank cards, closed-loop cards, QR codes and NFC wearable technologies.

5G wireless technology was first launched in 2019, but globally it has been slowed by the technology gap in emerging countries and the perception that 4G is still working well.

Collecting and analyzing real-time consumer data is critical to staying competitive and starting the smart city transformation. The demand for data analysis is constantly increasing due to the large amounts of data accumulated by operators and municipalities and the ability to use this analysis to support business decisions and improve the public environment.

Artificial intelligence has been adopted in other business areas, for example for fraud prevention. In recent years, it has been introduced into public services in areas such as traffic control, automatic fare collection and parking automation.

In 2021, cities continued to seek best solutions and practices for smart city transformation, learning from existing implementations where open-loop technologies linked data into a single ecosystem or supported mobile QR and facial recognition technology, providing methods additional payment.

The field of development is vast and does not end with public transportation or merchant contactless payments. The technology can be implemented in other areas such as education, entertainment or the exchange economy to create a contactless, safe and accessible environment.