Smart cities are an investment towards our
future and provide many benefits to current and future
residents. Urban centers are continually growing and the
utilization of smart technology will allow cities to further
advance. With the development of this type of technology there
are many opportunities available for the improvement and
growth of smart cities.
The Research &
Development Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the Federal Research and
Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13
percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and
processes. Qualified research must meet the following four
New or improved products,
processes, or software
Technological in nature
Elimination of uncertainty
Process of experimentation
Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost
of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated
with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015 President Obama
signed the bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent.
Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset
Alternative Minimum tax and startup businesses can utilize the
credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.
Smart City Growth
It is estimated that global investments in
smart city technology will likely increase by almost $19
billion to a total of $27.5 billion by 2023 . Research has
indicated that populations in metropolitan areas will only
develop in the future with a growth of 6.5 billion individuals
by 2050. In order to support a large amount of people in a
dense environment, improvements to cities have to be conducted
in the present.
Many investors and venture capitalists have shown that they
are interested in the idea of a future with smart cities and
are willing to contribute money towards building better
cities. Some popular investors include Google Ventures, BMW i
Ventures and Motorola Solutions Venture Capital. This funding
allows for the development of innovative technology and opens
up the door for many startup companies.
IBM & Smarter Cities
IBM has introduced a Smarter Cities Challenge program where
the company chose 16 cities around the world that were in need
of assistance to rebuild and create a better city. IBM
professionals focus on helping these cities create a plan to
resolve issues in relation to unemployment, transportation and
public safety, healthcare, revenue, social services and public
Part of the process consists of utilizing the IBM Watson
Analytics Professional Edition tool to gather city data and
analyze the collected information. IBM consultants then meet
with officials, residents, businesses and not-for-profits in
order to gain an insight on everyone’s perspectives and
discuss what the best practices are to improve their city.
After all of the factors are considered, consultants make
suggestions as to what are the best methods to redevelop a
city and solve current issues.
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has future plans
to reestablish cities with new housing retail and office
buildings. The company would work in collaboration with
struggling cities to improve certain aspects of the
municipality by implementing new technology. One of the most
important aspects during planning is for urban planners and
technology representatives to understand each other’s
perspectives in order to collaborate and develop a functional
The company is looking to achieve independence from certain
municipal regulations, such as design restrictions regarding
parking or street plans. A large challenge Sidewalk Labs
would have to get past is obtaining the large amount of money
that is needed to create new developments, which may also take
a long time to acquire.
Daniel Doctoroff, the CEO of Sidewalk Labs, strongly believes
that utilizing the right type of smart technology along with
communication is significant in creating a successful smart
city. Doctoroff is aware that there have been previous
attempts at building smart cities that have failed, which is
why it is important to analyze every aspect. Doctoroff has
suggested certain plans in the past that have failed, such as
congestion pricing charges for drivers in New York City.
There are certain types of technology that create Smart Cities
including fiber optics, cloud computing, traffic management
and smart sensors.
Gig City is known as a place where ultra high speed
internet connections exist to provide individuals with the
quickest method to obtain information. There has been an
increase in the amount of cities offering fiber optic
connections. Fiber optic internet connections provide people
with the advantage of having high speed internet at a lower
Traffic management technology assists drivers by
relaying travel information including traffic conditions,
alternate routes and much more. Not only does technology
maintain traffic congestion, but it provides safety to drivers
as well. There is specific traffic management technology, such
as LED screens dedicated to changing the speed limit or real
time information based on certain events.
Cloud computing is another form of technology that offers many
benefits to cities. One of the most significant aspects of
adapting to cloud technology is that it makes a vast amount of
information accessible to users. A large amount of data can be
backed up on the cloud and can be obtained quickly and easily.
By implementing this technology, cities can store large
amounts of important information to keep track of certain
Smart sensors are another component that can assist in
developing a better city for the future. Several U.S.
companies have partnered with China to invest in sensor
networks that will assist in creating a smarter city. The
smart sensors would be a part of a system that captures data
to monitor issues including traffic and air quality.
Sensity Systems Inc. is a company who is interested in
creating a system created if sensors, wireless communication
and computing devices to monitor these issues. These
smart technology devices will be placed on light poles to
detect certain aspects such as temperature, motion, light and
other various elements in the area.
E-Government initiatives have the power to supply users with
information based on advanced technological predictions. With
the use of technology, such as smart grids, interactive
devices and smart sensors, large amounts of data can be
collected and analyzed in real time. Utilizing this
information allows municipalities to provide a safer and more
connected environment for residents to live in.
Detroit has introduced a smart cities demonstration project,
which showcases the different types of smart technology that
can be utilized to reconstruct a better city. Implementation
of certain technology can help cities become safer and
healthier. There are mobile applications that residents can
use to monitor and control certain activities. The DTE Insight
app allows users to examine the efficiency of their energy
Itron is a publicly traded smart grid, smart gas and smart
water company has developed technology for solutions on
improving energy and water functions. The company developed
the Itron City app which gives residents a platform to report
any issues that occur in Detroit. Issues can include crime,
outages, potholes and water leaks. Reporting problems allow
situations to be resolved quicker and assists in maintaining a
Itron partnered with ClipperCreek Inc. to install electric
vehicle charging stations that contain Wi-Fi and a smart
meter. The technology included in the station gives drivers
the ability to receive information about potential charging
estimates right on their phones.
Intelligent streetlights serve the purpose to monitor and
control the lighting fixtures. These streetlights allow
Detroit to reduce the amount of energy that is consumed when
it isn’t required. Sensors would be implemented to detect if
there is movement in the area in order to determine how much
lighting is needed.
Hawaii’s Online Renewable Energy
Online tools were created for developers and investors in
Hawaii who intend to develop future clean energy projects.
Tools available to users include permitting, financing,
incentive, citing and utility resources. Specifically,
individuals have the availability of the Renewable EnerGIS Map
and Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard tools.
The Renewable EnerGIS Map is a Geographic Information System
(GIS) system that displays renewable energy resources and
where they are specifically located around Hawaii. The
tool distinguishes site permitting information as well. Using
GIS maps allows users to analyze and determine what potential
there is for investing in certain renewable energy resources.
The Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard allows individuals to
search what particular permits are needed if they were to
continue further pursuing an energy project.
These online tools have shown that they are beneficial to the
state of Hawaii by saving time and creating a more efficient
renewable energy permit and development process for
stakeholders and investors. Overall, these systems assist in
the development of renewable energy projects that will benefit
Hawaii’s residents and their environment.
Availability of these tools and renewable energy information
allows for increased transparency by giving individuals a vast
amount of resources to determine what specific type of project
should be developed.
City 24/7 Smart Screen
Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) and City 24/7
worked with New York City to implement interactive smart
screens around the city. The City 24/7 Smart Screens have
replaced deserted and outdated structures, such as
payphones. The interactive screens offer touch, voice
and audio technology to users who are able to search for
information about the city in relation to certain local
services, events, security alerts and real time data.
These smart screens offer city residents and tourists a new
way to experience the city by learning new information through
an interactive system.
The goal of implementing this type of technology is to inform,
protect and revitalize New York City to become a smarter city.
City 24/7 Smart Screens provide numerous benefits to the City
of New York. Sensors have the ability to alert police and fire
department personnel of certain emergencies and where they are
needed, as well as, detecting harmful chemical, biohazard and
environmental conditions in the surrounding area. The economy
can improve by providing individuals with information about
nearby areas, such as restaurants and stores and their current
promotions. The City 24/7 Smart Screens act not only as a tool
to assist individuals with obtaining information, but alerting
the city of potential hazards and emergency situations as
There are different types of zoning that
occurs in cities. Incentive, Euclidian, Overlay, Floating and
Performance Zoning are all different methods of planning that
can occur when designing or improving a city.
Euclidian Zoning: is
the most used of all the zoning practices and regulates
where residential, commercial and industrial locations
should be. There are certain regulations that pertain to
each area which mandate a building’s size, shape,
setbacks, height restrictions and density of the
gives a certain district more flexibility to develop by
introducing additional zoning requirements to an existing
district. For example, extra zoning regulations may be
allowed in a historic district if there are conflicts with
preserving the historic character of the area.
contain the same requirements as other zoning areas, but
has no particular designation on a zoning map. Once a
developer has an approved project in the floating zone, it
is added to the zoning map.
has a set of performance standards for building and land
use in the area that developers should meet. Some specific
standards consist of design criteria, environmental
building standards and impacts on the surrounding area.
Incentive Zoning: is
beneficial for developers due to its process of offering
incentives for a developer to build in the return for a
desired public amenity. This type of zoning is especially
beneficial to developers who are interested in moving
towards building a smarter city.
Expedited Commercial Permit
Within zoning ordinances, there are certain processes that can
be expedited to develop a certain project. For example, there
are expedited permit processes that exist in several
municipalities to make the development process easier for
particular, Frederick County in Maryland offers owners the
option of applying for an expedited commercial permit process
if no construction is involved. The process would
consist of reviewing a permit, approval and an inspection
process. All of these activities occur during a short amount
of time, which the city refers to a “while you wait visit,”
compared to the regular permitting process.
Certain guidelines still have to be followed, such as the
permit shouldn’t include any changes that isn’t allowed by the
Zoning Ordinance and doesn’t request any exterior changes to
the building on the site, including parking alterations. This
expedited permit process offers developers of commercial
properties the benefit of a quick and easy process to improve
or alter their building.
well-known architect from Miami, Bernard Zyscovich, created
Plan Z whose concept is to provide a safer and better
transportation system in Miami. Plan Z would lead to changes
to the Rickenbacker Causeway to make room for a new
pathway. The creation of this new proposal was due
to the high number of accidents that occur near highways.
According to data obtained from the Florida Department of
Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles around 3 in every 10 crashes
involving cyclists occur in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm
Beach counties. Zyscovich’s proposed plan has the
potential to alleviate this issue. Zyscovich has the intention
of developing additional pathways to accommodate bikers and
pedestrians to make the state of Florida safer and more
Suffolk and Nassau County partnered together to form the Long
Island Unified Solar Permitting Initiative (LIUSPI), which is
beneficial to residents of Long Island who are interested in
solar installation. The initiative includes the
availability of the Solar Energy System Fast Track Permit
Application, which decreases the amount of time and money
individuals spend when implementing solar projects.
There are many advantages that are offered to residents, such
as lower application fees, a fast application approval and no
required surveys of a resident’s property if it doesn’t relate
to the solar installation. Large incentives were offered to
towns in Long Island by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA)
to utilize the LIUSPI process. LIPA provided the first 10
villages $5,000 and $15,000 to each town on Long Island.
The use of solar power has increased over the past few years
and municipalities realize the installation of solar panels
can assist in creating a better environment to live in. If
cities continue providing incentives to their residents, the
use of solar power will continue to grow.
There are many initiatives and resources available to
companies and developers who are involved with developing
smart cities. Smart Cities will help areas around the world
become a better place for residents to live in. R&D tax
credits are available to companies who are involved with new
developments in technology for Smart Cities.