Future Cities: US Startups Using Applications to Build Smart Cities

Smart cities are gaining ground as US startups revolutionize urban living with innovative applications. Explore the future of smart cities and their impact on transportation, energy, safety, and community engagement.

Itumeleng Notsi
June 8, 2023
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In recent years, the concept of smart cities has gained significant traction as urban areas grapple with the challenges of rapid urbanization, resource management, and sustainability. Smart cities leverage technology and data to enhance efficiency, improve quality of life, and promote sustainable development. And at the forefront of this movement are US startups, driving innovation through app development and shaping the future of urban living through their groundbreaking applications.

1. Problems Plaguing Inner Cities

1.1 Poverty

Inner cities often experience higher poverty rates compared to other areas, leading to limited access to quality education, healthcare, and job opportunities. Poverty can contribute to a cycle of disadvantage and limited access to essential services. 

1.2 Crime and Violence 

Many mayors reported an uptick in crime within their cities and this trend was particularly alarming for homicide countrywide. With higher crime rates, including drug-related crimes, gang activities, and violence, city mayors are hoping that environments of fear and instability affecting the safety and well-being of residents can be turned around.

1.3 Affordable Housing

A shortage of affordable housing options is a common issue within cities, leading to high housing costs and homelessness. This can create instability, displacement, and housing insecurity for vulnerable populations. Blight is a constant topic among mayors, with affordable housing and homelessness continuing to be top issues for cities, especially for the senior demographic.

1.4 Environment and Energy

Focus in recent years has been on the impact of climate change and developing innovative policies for greater environmental and energy sustainability. Environmental issues such as pollution, inadequate waste management, and limited access to green spaces can negatively impact the health and well-being of residents and contribute to a lower quality of life. 

1.5 Limited Economic Opportunities

Economic challenges by way of high unemployment rates, limited job possibilities, and a lack of investment squander the economic development required in the cities. This can lead to income inequality and a lack of economic mobility for residents. Focusing on small businesses allows the local economy to grow as more job opportunities are made available.

Other pressing issues within inner cities are a lack of healthcare and infrastructure, education disparity, and a lack of diversity. Such issues are gaps that startups are looking to bridge to make inner-city living sustainable and enjoyable. 

2. Application-led Startups

In smart cities, companies like Sidewalk Labs and Iota Communications are building technology to optimize how cities function. Sidewalk Labs is transforming 800 acres of urban space in Toronto into an experimental smart city. Their future city will incorporate self-driving vehicles, adaptable buildings, underground disposal networks, and data-driven planning. Iota provides wireless connectivity and applications for smart city services like energy management, transportation, and water monitoring.

SMSM Technologies is a startup operating out of Delaware in the US. It offers an IoT-based SaaS platform, Smart City App, to control, monitor, and manage city operations efficiently. The startup’s management system also leverages an IoT platform and a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to provide analytics and control over city-data. By analyzing the data, it minimizes the environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and light pollution on cities by cutting energy use during low peak hours. Using machine learning algorithms, the startup enables cities with sensors to predict events, situations, and bottlenecks in real time.

In the construction industry, startups are developing innovations in prefabrication, project management software, and 5D building information modeling (BIM). Katerra leads the off-site construction movement, operating factories that preassemble components that can then be quickly installed onsite. PlanGrid and Procore are startups that offer construction management platforms to optimize workflows, communication, and collaboration during building projects. And startups like IrisVR and proBIM enable architects and engineers to create interactive 3D models that provide spatial, cost, and scheduling information to streamline planning.

These startups are reimagining urban city life and work through cutting-edge technologies and a vision for connected, sustainable cities. With applications that optimize living, mobility, clean environments, and infrastructure, startups are driving major improvements in urban efficiency and quality of life. 

As seen on FOX, Digital journal, NCN, Market Watch, Bezinga and more

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