From a global point of view, this century urban populations have overtaken rural populations.
In 2050, the population worldwide is expected to reach 9 billion people, of whom two-thirds will live in cities, including in more than 50 megacities.
Numerous areas are finding it difficult to keep up with this soaring urbanization, as demonstrated by its significant impact on the environment and health, energy waste and social exclusion, and as a consequence, a deteriorating quality of life.
These demographic changes require initiatives by Communities to manage these challenges and adapt to them: One of the powerful responses is the intelligence of the areas.
Smart cities, designed to be a convergence of communication, information and infrastructure technologies, aim to improve urban life, increase the efficiency of services and as such, this quality of life.
This “intelligence” aims to meet the needs of Communities, businesses and citizens, by reconciling the environmental, social and cultural dimensions.
- It is based on the digital aspect (sensors, data production, analysis tools), leading to organizational and societal evolutions.
- It mainly affects the mobility economy, energy management, data management and the collaborative aspects.
- Its ultimate aim is to make cities more sustainable, more economical and closer to their citizens and to respond, in a relevant way, to problems that are set to increase: An intelligent city is also one that does better with less.
Nevertheless, this promise generally exceeds the capacities of the Communities and often conflicts with their short-term budget priorities.
Due to a cost assessment that is still uncertain, the experimental nature of many projects and the transversal nature involving different services, Communities struggle to find viable economic and business models: These new funding strategies, which guarantee the deployment of innovation and the continuity (including financially) of the service, are a major stake for the emergence of Smart Cities.
However, numerous investments in Smart Cities have proved their cost-effectiveness in the medium term, but have not been deployed on a larger scale due to a lack of resources. One example of this is the energy domain (smart management of lighting or of public buildings). In France, a study by the consultants Roland Berger showed that economies generated by the intelligence of the areas could reach 9.2 billion euros in 2025, while a study by Siemens identifies a certain number of smaller initiatives that could generate savings, allowing an investment of 6.6 billion euros to be made.
The size of the market warrants the interest: In the United States, according to MarketsandMarkets, it will reach 147.5 billion dollars in 2020.
It is therefore a question of mobilizing different sources or imagining new collaborations with the aim of financing and managing equipment or solutions that guarantee or contribute to a public service.
Therefore, we must also seek creativity and technical innovation from a financial point of view.
What are then these new financing models and tools for the disruption of the infrastructure projects in the Smart City projects?
Which promising economic models are associated with these urban infrastructure projects to allow the public authorities to get the budgetary margin back?