The idea of creating better cities is as old as human settlement. Smart cities is our latest iteration, amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution , now that we have exponentially more data and computing power available affordably. This article will focus on illuminating three counterintuitive trends I have observed with smart cities.

Smart city technologies continue to experience rapid growth, both in the development of new devices and their applications within the city environment. Globally, cities' investment in Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will increase by $97 billion from 2015 - 2019.

The United States of America has changed political administrations and much concern exists about the deregulation efforts and how the key departments will proceed. The past Executive Branch was very supportive of Smart City solutions with programs like the Smart City Challenge and the Smart City Readiness Challenge Grant. They have awarded millions of dollars of incentives which has driven even greater private investment.

While some of these targeted funds may be in jeopardy the wind continues to be behind the Smart City efforts from a few directions:

At one of my recent talks in New York about AI in the supply chain, one of the key questions that came up was “Are you talking about robots?”

You see, AI has been romanticized into this abstract term that conjures images of walking robots doing your household chores while you just sit back and relax.

Smart city leaders can benchmark their city's progress with the help of a new free-to-download app, developed by TM Forum, the global member association for digital business. Its primary purpose is to bring all of the stakeholders together in a smart city project and create a vision using global standards and best practice.

Smart water and smart city programs are changing. Once viewed from a top-down perspective, city water utilities are starting to be seen from a more holistic perspective, with larger, more integrated programs. A recent MIT conference on smart city water included ideas for eco-entrepreneurs to create a niche within city water utilities through data analytics.

The portal will be maintained by the state Office of Digital Innovation alongside its Innovation Lab--centralization that should bode well for future app development. California's Government Operations Agency relaunched its open data portal as open source Thursday, so civil coders and state departments might sustainably innovate on the new platform.

The City of Los Angeles is replacing all of its old sodium-vapor streetlights with smart LED versions that use less energy and save money. And, the resulting savings and excess power is being reinvested in new electric vehicle charging stations attached to the streetlight poles.

What do Coca-Cola and smart cities have in common?
The answer is in the IoT components baked into the modern vending machine. Coca-Cola has been recognized as a leader in developing vending machines that can shift electric consumption levels based on low and peak energy-use patterns. The aggregate of energy saved by thousands of vending machines across an urban area can have a significant effect on carbon footprint.

If you have a bright idea for a technology that could help shape the next generation of smarter cities then an event this weekend at the Judge Business School could be right up your street.

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