The new tech trends set to shape the smart cities of tomorrow


The World Bank estimates that by 2050 the global urban population will double in size, putting ever-increasing pressure on city streets, housing markets, infrastructure, government services, and the environment. Luckily, over the last few years, advancements in the fields of AI, IoT, robotics, and the ongoing deployment of 5G have made the timing ripe for new technological solutions to come to the rescue. In 2023, the global smart cities market was valued at $748.7 billion and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.8% from 2023 to 2030.

These new solutions are set to reshape our urban environments into the glittering “smart cities” that exist in our imaginations — but what will that actually mean in practice?

While we may not be able to predict the future, one place that could give us a glimpse into what’s to come is the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre which is set to host this year’s HKTDC InnoEX and Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) on 13-16 April 2024.

These two fairs serve as a global platform for thousands of exhibitors to present the latest in cutting-edge technology and electronics attracting over 80,000 buyers from around 21 countries and regions, making it a meeting point for tech companies, policymakers, academics, and users to discover and exchange ideas.

TNW caught up with some of this year’s participants hailing from Hong Kong to Paris to get their take on the biggest trends set to hit the smart city market in the coming years.

The rise of AI and assessing global solutions for local challenges

As a founder of the Smart City Consortium, a platform of corporates, academics, professionals, and government officials, Gary Yeung has had a keen focus on the trends and technologies shaping the smart city market over the past decade. He believes one technology in particular is set to become a catalyst for the next evolution in smart cities.

This is the year of AI. No matter what theme we’re talking about, it’ll be related to AI development. Last year, we talked a little bit about AI usage but now I can see more and more practical applications and soft landings across different industries.

This technology will support the whole smart city development. As IoT devices collect Big Data, it’s AI that allows us to extract answers and develop new applications. It’s these new applications that will define smart city development and also provide huge opportunities to different industries.

However, while innovation can bring great things, it also needs to be honed towards responsible applications. That’s why for Yeung, the true definition of a smart city is the use of technology to solve sustainable development goals:

Technology is a means for us to do things more efficiently but we need to have more efficient energy solutions to support us, whether it’s electric or hydrogen. New innovations require more energy, so we need more efficient data centres, for example, to power them. But we can’t just put the responsibility on governments, we also need social impact solutions.

Smart City Consortium's Pavilion at InnoEX