Cisco's Elfrink: Global opportunity for hundreds of new, connected cities

Cisco chief globalization officer Wim Elfrink says global urbanization opens a major opportunity for new, networked smart cities. Plus, four megatrends driving it.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Calif., Cisco chief globalization officer Wim Elfrink says that the world's breakneck pace toward urbanization opens a major opportunity for companies like his to build networked, connected smart cities from the ground up -- all over the world.

"Technology is probably the only way out," he said. "In China alone, a hundred cities are built of a million people or more. And we envision that in places like India, that there is a need for at least 200 cities in the next 50 years. So if you build them from the ground up, you can build them based on technology. One common infrastructure. Artificial legs for energy accumulation. And citizens will not buy technology. They will choose -- consume -- services."

In a presentation entitled "The Network Is The Platform For Transforming The World,” Elfrink outline four megatrends that he believes will change the world:

  1. The aging and decline of working populations in developed countries.
  2. The upcoming population boom of emerging countries.
  3. The shift of economic power from developed to developing nations.
  4. The urbanization of the world’s population.

Naturally, Elfrink uses those trends to explain the great business opportunity Cisco has in connecting cities -- the economic engines behind these megatrends -- to allow for smarter buildings, less traffic, improved water systems, more effective public safety and energy efficiency.

Such as:

  • Traffic: reduce by 20 percent. "We can't build roads forever. You don't commute to compute."
  • Energy savings: increase by 50 percent.
  • Water usage: reduce by 80 percent.
  • Crime rates: reduce by 20 percent. "Crime rates, because people feel more safe, go down automatically."

"Think about cities like Seoul -- 18 million people -- and Chongqing in China, 37 [million]," he said. "These are ecosystems in itself. Where there is a big unmet need for public services, for safety and security, and then of course for all kinds of marketplace services. And so we talk about Web 2.0, perhaps we should talk about Web 3.0. What are the benefits? And what these things do, this 'Internet of Things' do?"

His complete presentation, below:

"We are the bottlenecks -- people of my generation, because we argue, we talk, we don't dream enough. If you put children in a Telepresence room, they look not at the technology -- they just start playing and they use it. So if we build new cities, if we revitalize cities around the world, we have to think out of the box."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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