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Shanghai ranked world’s top smart city for 2023

Research shows savings from smart city deployments reaching $249bn globally, with Asia and North America dominating list of top switched-on urban environments

A study from Juniper Research has found that Shanghai is the leading smart city in 2023, ranked first for the second year in a row due to its superior connectivity and data systems.

The research report, Smart cities market: Growth, trends & market forecasts 2023-2028, produced a ranking of 50 world cities, based on an evaluation of many smart city aspects, covering transportation and infrastructure, energy and lighting, city management and technology, and urban connectivity.

For 2023, the top five smart cities ranked by Juniper Research were: Shanghai, New York, Toronto, Seoul and Shenzhen. In the equivalent study last year, the top five smart cities were Shanghai, Seoul, Barcelona, Beijing and New York. The research then particularly lauded Shanghai’s Citizen Cloud as a one-stop point for more than 1,000 services for city residents.

The Suishenban Citizen Cloud was also a key driver for Shanghai’s leadership in 2023 due to it not only still providing access to many services for residents, but also what was seen as its strong deployment of 5G and its use of innovative technologies, including digital twins. The leading cities in this ranking have all rolled out services that are effectively harnessing data and connectivity to improve citizen experiences.

“Shanghai has taken a joined-up approach to data, building not only a robust and all-encompassing data platform, but also the connectivity to underpin every aspect of this,” said research co-author Nick Maynard. “This joined-up approach is the biggest takeaway for rival cities wanting to emulate Shanghai’s achievements, and should be a part of any smart city initiative to ensure success.”

Looking at the other leading locations, the report said New York City had been a driving force for climate-related smart city initiatives and that it was leading through a combination of pragmatism and innovation. Across the US-Canadian border, Toronto’s use of open data, particularly with respect to the identification and resolution of civic issues, was regarded as a key approach to making the city smarter.

Juniper’s study observed that Seoul had been a leader in new smart technologies for several years and would set an example to others on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered citizen engagement. Shenzhen is also predicted to be a forerunner in smart city development, particularly with respect to digital twinning, connectivity and governance.

The research also identified the potential cost savings driving smart city deployments and forecast $249bn by 2028 globally, from $96bn in 2023, representing a growth of 158%. The savings are said to be derived from the monetary impacts of reduced energy usage and emissions from the deployment of smart grid, smart traffic management and smart street lighting.

Such savings are seen as a major driver of smart city deployments and Juniper predicted they would equate to almost three times the spend on smart city software and hardware by 2028, showing a clear path to return on investment for cities.

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