Over 13,000 Microcities to Drive Global Urban Tech Adoption Bolstered by New Urbanization Concepts

04 Feb 2021

Current cities are very much dominated by microcity clusters - dense aggregations of economic and social life. Microcity clusters are in and around airports, ports, international rail stations, venues, malls, corporate and university campuses, office parks, and other highly concentrated urban zones. Global tech market advisory firm ABI Research finds there are currently over 13,000 microcities globally. While Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of dense urban clusters, their role as engines of economic growth will remain unchallenged, despite categories like malls, which are expected to decline in specific regions due to the accelerated adoption of digital lifestyles, such as e-Commerce. 

“In any case, microcities will remain hotbeds for urban technology innovation,” says Dominique Bonte, VP End Markets and Verticals at ABI Research. “Common technologies deployed across all microcity types include smart cameras and biometrics, robotics and automation, digital signage, private Wi-Fi and 5G networks, and micro-grids. They allow addressing specific challenges related to people flow management, access and security, overall customer experience, and environmental impact while generating cost savings through maximizing operational efficiencies.”

Unsurprisingly, a wide range of smart cities technology vendors and service providers are focusing their product and solution strategies on one or more microcity types. Examples include Nokia (private 5G networks for cargo ports), Accenture (consultancy and system integration for airports), Navya (driverless vehicles for airports), IBM (data analytics and AI for ports), Cisco (IoT platforms for ports), Alstom (passenger flow management at railway stations), NEC (Software-Defined Networking for railway stations), Siemens (industrial systems for airports, campuses, and railway stations), and HERE (yard management at ports).

While microcities will continue to define the urban footprint, future urbanization concepts will shift from ultra-clusters to more distributed, smaller-scaled microcities. The shift will arise as new linear, pedestrianized, and suburban city designs informed by sustainability, resilience, and digital lifestyle imperatives start taking hold.

At the same time, new forms of on-demand mobility such as airborne taxis and often underground high-speed transit, like ultra-fast trains and hyperloops, will ensure spreading urban zones remain hyper-connected,” Bonte concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Urban Concepts – Microcities and Cities-in-a-City application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Cities and Smart Spaces research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.

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