ESI ThoughtLab Launches Smarter Cities 2025 Program

April 18, 2018
esi thoughtlab smarter cities 2025

Transforming a city for the better requires a plan, and the ESI ThoughtLab has set out to craft one that all urban leaders can utilize. Titled Smarter Cities 2025, this smart city road map will use evidence-based analysis to detail a sustainable business and financing plan. The team of corporate, government, and academic experts behind this research hopes that Smarter Cities 2025 will provide best practices and impart the business case for smarter cities.

Smarter Cities 2025 will go deeper than current urban research by benchmarking smart city progress across 100 cities worldwide. It will quantify the full benefits of smart city initiatives for citizens, businesses, and government, while identifying the business and financing models that will ensure sustainable results.

“The convergence of digitization, globalization, and demographic change is redefining the urban landscape and how people shop, work, travel and live,” program director and CEO of ESI ThoughtLab Lou Celi said. “Businesses with a stake in the future of cities are fast developing innovative solutions to meet the new realities of urban life and digital commerce. Without a clear playbook for the future, cities run the risk of falling far behind their local stakeholders and losing their competitiveness.”

ESI ThoughtLab’s team of urban economists will develop the Smarter Cities 2025 program in conjunction with a cross-sector coalition of organizations to provide city leaders with advanced analytical tools for driving innovation, growth, and prosperity. The coalition consists of eight corporate sponsors with a stake in the future of cities: Accenture, Cognizant, Exelon, Ferrovial Services, GM, Mastercard, Oracle, and Pennoni. It also includes an international group of research advisors specializing in urban analysis, including experts affiliated with world renowned institutions such as the Penn Institute of Urban Research, the Smart Cities Council, Sogang University School of Economics, Meeting of the Minds and Renaissance Urbaine.

Meeting new urban challenges

Building on the intellectual capital of the coalition, as well as rigorous economic analysis, urban performance benchmarking, and cost-benefit modeling, the ESI ThoughtLab-led research program will help public- and private-sector decision-makers answer today’s most pressing urban questions: 

  • How will technological, demographic, and market shifts transform the behavior of consumers and businesses in cities?
  • What steps are successful smart cities taking across different dimensions— such as governance, infrastructure, and mobility—to meet the needs of local citizens and businesses?
  • In what ways will cities innovate to improve economic opportunity, prosperity, and living standards for citizens across income levels in the future?
  • How will forward-looking cities harness smarter technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the sharing economy, blockchain, Internet of Things, and biometrics to drive performance?
  • What can cities do to transform themselves into future business hubs of talent and innovation? Which smart city initiatives and skill sets will be most important in the future?
  • What are the most effective business plans for creating and funding the smart city of the future? What ROI should citizens, businesses, and governments expect?

Unique “mixed methods” research

Conducting research at this level of excellence requires a team of top urban economists with access to granular data on consumers and businesses in worldwide cities, and the most advanced macro-to-micro tools to provide strategic insights and performance metrics. It also calls for a valuable cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives from key industry players and urban experts with a role in a city’s future.

To make this happen, the research program includes:

  • A steering committee of sponsors and experts from the corporate, government, and academic community with valuable perspectives and major stakes in the future of cities.
  • Proprietary surveys of policymakers, experts, consumers and businesses in key cities representing different levels of economic development and digital maturity.
  • Primary data from surveys and official sources to feed into customized economic impact, forecasting, and cost-benefit models.
  • Performance impact models that will allow city leaders to assess their smart city maturity and the impact of smart initiatives on key performance metrics.

ESI ThoughtLab will conduct the research over a six-month period and plans to release the results, including a white paper and a city benchmarking and performance impact platform, in autumn of 2018. “By pooling the intellectual capital and economic resources of our research coalition, we will be able to help cities around the world reach their full potential,” said Dr. Richard Voith, co-program director and president of Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI). “In addition, this initiative will help nurture the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 11 and the New Urban Agenda.”

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