With the massive growth of migration processes towards urban areas, the models of (planned) development of various large cities throughout the globe has collapsed, this resulting into enormous difficulties in the governance of them. In this environment, technologically dedicated advanced solutions can help solve these challenges. Before beginning to speak about “Smart Cities“, it could be a good idea to define them. The BusinessDictionary.com, for example, describe a Smart City as
A developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government. Excelling in these key areas can be done so through strong human capital, social capital, and/or ICT infrastructure
Given the above, in this cross-field, the ICT factor can be considered as the “enabler”. From energy to traffic management, from environment to security, from building automation to transportation, just to cite a few areas, startups also are involved to create solutions capable of making our cities more connected, smarter and easier to live. A market worth $1,266.58 Billion by 2019 (according to MarketsAndMarkets), which has naturally attracted venture capital.
Let’s have a look at some very interesting examples of startups that recently raised vc funding in different fields.
NYC-based Placemeter, which recently raised $6m in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates, Qualcomm Ventures, Collaborative Fund, etc., has built a platform to help cities operate more efficiently and effectively. Its computer vision algorithms on public, private and contributed video feeds can detect and count pedestrians and vehicles in streets, estimate how busy places are, track how long people wait in line, measure the speed of cars, etc.
Irvine, CA-based WaterHealth International, which recently received a USD$10m investment from Vital Capital (bat also backed by IFC, The Dow Chemical Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Acumen Fund, Tata Capital, Sail Capital Partners and others), provides water purification and disinfection technology (already deployed in India and sub-Saharan Africa), which enables the delivery of clean water to remote and underserved communities by governments, municipalities, corporations, communities or NGOs.
Kirkland, WA-based Inrix, which receives a $55m minority investment from Porsche, provides automakers, fleets, governments and news organizations with a real-time traffic information platform that leverages a crowd-sourced network of more than 175 million vehicles and devices worldwide.
Barcelona, Spain-based Scytl, which secured $44m financing in July 2014, provides software covering every process within an election, from election planning and voter registration to online voting and election night reporting, allowing governments to improve the efficiency, accessibility, transparency and security of their elections. Rome, Italy-based Qurami, which has just raised €500k from LVenture (LVEN.MI), members of Italian Angels for Growth and other business angels, provides a mobile app that allows users to take a digital ticket without being in the queue physically at hospital, public administration offices, etc., to know the numbers of people ahead and the estimated waiting time. When the turn is coming, the app sends a push notification to the user smartphone.
Raleigh, NC-based PrecisionHawk, which recently raised 10m in Series B funding, sells drones that are equipped with sensors and cameras and collect various data about the land they survey. Applications include search rescue, emergency response and infrastructure surveying.