Black & Veatch Report: Utilities, Planning Critical to Success of Smart City Efforts | Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch Report: Utilities, Planning Critical to Success of Smart City Efforts

2016 Smart City / Smart Utility report shows smart movements gaining momentum as technology and data power efforts

Governments and utilities increasingly view smart city systems as transformational tools to boost resilience and quality of life in cities across the world. This is driven by expectations that smart city programs will produce greater efficiency across municipal functions. But, Black & Veatch's 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City / Smart Utility report finds many cities are reluctant to begin the important work of smart city planning.  Constrained budgets, lack of resources and questions about how to roadmap and implement plans are viewed as top barriers.

The 2016 Smart City / Smart Utility report also finds respondents have adopted a more balanced outlook towards the implementation of smart city models from one year ago. Nearly 60 percent of respondents see the widespread adoption of smart city models requiring six to 15 years. Public-private partnerships (70.6 percent), like Kansas City’s Smart + Connected Community program, continue to be viewed as the primary funding approach for future smart city programs.

“Getting to ‘smart’ is often an evolution, not a revolution, Civic objectives of sustainable and reliable energy, water and communications provide the mandate for smarter systems. Stakeholders at the utility, municipal, industrial and consumer levels will need to work together to ensure cities move forward with their objectives.”

Marty Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecom business

Developing smart infrastructure is not without its challenges. Cities and utility service providers face limited resources, environmental concerns, and growing populations that put pressure on infrastructure to do more with less. Long-term vision/proactive governance (53 percent) and cost pressures (44 percent) were identified as the major forces driving the adoption of smart technologies and data analytics. 

“Utilities’ history of developing and using new technology to improve operations provides a great catalyst to new innovation for municipal leaders,” said Fred Ellermeier, chief operating officer of Black & Veatch’s Smart Integrated Infrastructure (SII) business. “There has been real success with long-term efficiency and sustainability efforts as utilities adapt to the changing economic and regulatory landscape. Further, the steps taken to manage aging workforces and changing resource needs can serve as primary research for reshaping how city departments operate.”

Other key findings include:

More than 81 percent of respondents indicate the U.S. is lagging in the smart city revolution


Improved efficiency/reduced costs and environmental /resource sustainability were the top drivers of smart city initiatives


Nearly half of respondents viewed high-speed data networks as the most important investment to begin a smart city program


Two-thirds of respondents view asset management as the top business area to improve from greater use of data analytics


Solar (72 percent) is the distributed energy resource that will most impact electric utilities


Less than 10 percent of electric utility participants indicate they have completed the transition to the new NERC CIP V5 cyber security standard 

For more information and a free electronic copy of the 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City / Smart Utility Report please visit  

Editor’s Notes:

  • The report survey was administered online via email from 29 October 2015 through 20 November 2015.
  • 778 participants responded to the survey, resulting in a precision level of at least ±3.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
  • This year's report features insights from India, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
  • The Black & Veatch Strategic Directions: Smart City / Smart Utility report is part of the company's Strategic Directions series that includes in-depth analysis of the electric, water and natural gas industries.

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