Smart City Takeaways from CES 2018

10 Jan 2018

gtechna CES 2018 Smart City Illustrated Graphic

If you’re a tech fan like we are, you’ll know that CES, the globally renowned annual tech showcase and conference, is happening this week in Las Vegas. We were excited to attend and get a glimpse at what the experts predict is coming down the pike for smart cities, and we wanted to share our takeaways with you, too!

One thing that was made clear across all of the sessions we attended was that the ultimate goal of a smart city is to make life easier for its citizens. The topic of customer-focused smart city solutions is something we’ve discussed before, and we’re glad to see that it’s still being emphasized —  during the CES session called Partnering to Build Smart City Solutions, smart city experts from across the globe weighed in on its importance: 

Customer-focused smart city solutions

Miguel Pinto Luz, Deputy Mayor, City Hall Cascais (Portugal)

Smart cities can bridge the trust gap between citizens and politicians by encouraging a new kind of democracy — one in which municipalities use data collected from sensors and other infrastructure to understand the pain points citizens struggle with, then use that data to eliminate those pain points and improve quality of life. It could even help citizens feel like they’re getting more for their tax dollars.

When rolling out a smart city app to provide information on services like transit tracking, emergency services, bike sharing, and ride sharing, it’s much easier to do so from the municipal level rather than from a private business. If the municipality manages the platform and the pricing for any private sector services it hosts, it keeps the cost of use down for citizens.

John Kwant, Vice President, City Solutions, Ford Motor Company

As a city continues to grow and attract more people, its existing infrastructure slows down. Cities need to ensure they keep up with this by increasing carrying capacity, freeing up road space, and making other improvements that maintain “breathing room” for citizens. Otherwise, the city’s growth may stall.

Open data is important. A common challenge is that there’s no collaboration or integration among transit authorities, ride share companies, and cities. It’s time to start working together to create multi-modal environments and understand that opportunity is much greater when data is shared.


Another discussion theme we noticed was that the impending shift from 4G to 5G mobile data networks is coming soon, and while overall it means reduced network latency, 5G deployment is not a one-size-fits-all solution and is going to look very different from city to city.

The shift from 4G to 5G

Lani Ingram, Vice President, Verizon

As applications like autonomous transportation and smart kiosks become more commonplace, 5G data is going to become increasingly important. This is because 5G data speeds reduce latency so that video and traffic information collected by sensors can be transferred and used right away.
Verizon has already begun the process of 5G deployment in Sacramento, making it Verizon’s first fully-5G city. As 5G deployment starts to happen in other cities, it’s important that the end goal is to eliminate real-world pain points their citizens face. For this reason, it will look different in every city based its unique goals and the needs of its citizens.

Michael Zeto, General Manager and Executive Director, AT&T

While we know the public sector is going to be instrumental as we shift from 4G to 5G data speeds, supplemental funding from the federal government would also help us scale faster and is a real possibility as this falls into the category of infrastructure.


It’s exciting to start seeing a clearer picture of the future of smart cities, especially now that we know 5G network speeds are coming soon. If you’re curious about what the Internet of Things and all these other tech advancements mean for the future of parking, click below to download our free slide deck, The Golden Age of Parking! 

Download the slide deck on smart cities and IoT

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