The undeniable strategic value of real-time data

As the shape of our lives has shifted in response to COVID-19, so too has the landscape of our cities. Ways of working, travelling and socialising that we all thought were set in stone have proved to be much more fluid.

Changes that would usually take years or decades to bring about have happened overnight. We’re all viewing the world through a different lens now and city leaders are rapidly realising what they need to do to get ahead and ensure the urban future continues to look bright.

Global review shows smart cities are on the rise

A year on from the emergence of COVID-19, “Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World”[1] – a report from think tank ESI ThoughtLab – reveals how 167 cities across the world are responding to the biggest disruption in a generation.

Faced with an emergency that needed decisive, immediate action, global city leaders realised, “with social distancing preventing physical interaction in cities, smart technology became the only game in town.”

69% now say they’re reconsidering urban planning and 65% assert that smart city programmes are crucial to the future.

What are the building blocks of resilient smart cities?

Municipal managers have long understood that smart technologies and innovative ways of collecting and using data would be key, not only to achieving their social, environmental and economic goals, but also to their readiness and resilience.

The pandemic gave them first-hand experience of just how vital.

According to ESI ThoughtLab CEO, Lou Celi[2], “One of the big failings, cities told us, during the pandemic is they didn’t have access to the real-time data they needed; things were shifting very fast. They have to come to see data as a strategic asset.”

The cities who have done just that and are making most progress are dubbed Cities 4.0. These are the top global examples proving that making headway in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – across areas such as poverty, economic growth, education, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, and sustainable communities – is clearly linked to advanced use of smart technology and data, superior infrastructure and digital connectivity.

Step by step towards more smart cities

Drilling down into the details of what actions these leading cities are taking to forge ahead, 18 of the 20 Cities 4.0 were shown to extract value from data and integrate, collect and analyse data, compared to about half of all cities. All 20 have invested in the Internet of Things (IoT).

It is clear that futureproofed outdoor technology that can gather a huge spectrum of real-time data will be part of the hyperconnected intelligent ecosystem that enables cities to not just survive but thrive.

The report is unequivocal in its conclusions. “Urban centres will need to become Smart Cities 4.0 to prosper and grow after the pandemic.” Finding expert partners and suppliers to help drive change is also high on the list of priorities central to the successful evolution of cities.

The pandemic has clearly been a catalyst for pushing ideas that were only just creeping onto the agenda before the crisis firmly to the top. As restrictions have begun to lift, at Amscreen, we’ve been heartened by the speed of the reintroduction of advertising content through our network of screens. A strong indicator of the flexibility of digital infrastructure in supporting the pandemic recovery that is only set to continue as we take the learnings from the last year and apply them to the future of Smart Cities.

To find out more about the innovative projects and partners achieving their goals thanks to our bespoke data points, get in touch.

[1] Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World

[2] Quoted in ‘Pandemic accelerated rise of smart cities’,