sustainable future ready cityscape from above
By Kristi Colmenero

Top 2 areas of sustainability technology investment for future-ready cities

In a recent report sponsored by JLL Technologies, ThoughtLab researched 200 cities of varying sizes and surveyed the citizens of 20 of those cities. The study reveals how leaders are investing in technology and leveraging partnerships to create sustainable cities and serve their citizens.

On average, cities will spend $350 million on technology over the next five years, with heavy investments in environmental and social governance (ESG)/sustainability across two key areas.

Air-, water-, and temperature-monitoring technology

Air and water are essential to human survival. They’re also excellent decarbonization opportunities for municipalities. Major cities in the survey intend to spend $85 per resident, while smaller towns are looking to invest more than 20 times that amount. Here’s how the sustainability technology dollars will be spent:

  • 29% on real-time water quality monitoring
  • 23% on real-time air quality monitoring
  • 21% on real-time temperature monitoring

“[Internet of things] is the next technology that will help us track the pulse of the city. Monitoring city processes will inform city leaders and organizations.”

IT Strategist, Smart City Infrastructure & Innovation Peter Nõu

Sustainable mobility and transportation technology

“Cities are becoming increasingly focused on improving mobility and reducing congestion and pollution,” said Andrea Sorri, segment development manager of smart cities at Axis Communications.

Mobility/transportation is the third-largest investment for future-ready cities. Per capita, they will invest an average of $177 over the next five years, with the smaller cities investing ten times as much per resident. A whopping 65% of municipal leaders are prioritizing the alignment of transportation plans with ESG goals, and 46% of citizens want officials to focus on inter-city transportation infrastructure—and to pass policies that will reduce carbon emissions. An additional 40% of residents want better infrastructure to support electric vehicle (EV) charging.

“Transport must be a primary target for decarbonization; vehicle kilometers traveled must be substantially reduced.”

Deputy Mayor and Auckland City Councilmember Bill Cashmore

Here’s how cities are investing in their sustainable transportation infrastructure:

  • Public EV charging: 22%
  • Government EV charging: 19%
  • Micro transit: 15%
  • Autonomous vehicles: 10%
  • Smart traffic signals: 6%

Meanwhile, residents expect to change their behaviors substantially, and the use of public and eco-friendly transportation will increase: 50% more will use “green” motorized transportation; 49% will walk, bike, or scoot around the city; and 27% more will use public mass transit.

Urban areas generate large amounts of emissions, and they’re also impacted the most by pollution. To decarbonize and create more sustainable, livable cities, leaders are investing in tech and are also leveraging critical partnerships with real estate and technology companies.

“Ecosystems of partnerships will be crucial in driving progress, pooling resources and knowledge, sharing or copying best practices, and educating and helping scale technology,” explained Global Research Director of City Futures at JLL Jeremy Kelly. “For example, there is strong potential to leverage the real estate sector’s intelligence, skills, innovations, and financial acumen to help deliver sustainability goals.”

Want to know how technology and strategic partnerships can help your city become more sustainable, equitable, and resilient? Download the ebook.