For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Making Smarter Cities
As population growth drives urbanization, the environmental impacts of cities are becoming increasingly important. By 2050, some 90% of the U.S. population and 70% of the world population will live in cities, according to the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems.
As a result, interest in "smart cities" that provide technologically advanced services and infrastructure is increasing: The global smart city market is projected to cross $1 trillion in 2016, with players such as IBM and Accenture leading the way, says MarketsandMarkets Research.
"Successful cities will need to differentiate themselves to attract investment and productive residents," said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, Research Director of IDC's Smart Cities Strategies, in a recent report. Constrained financial resources, fast-growing populations, and aging infrastructures are driving investment in smart cities, she said.
Budget constraints prompted the City of Sacramento to launch one of the first 311 smartphone apps in August. The app lets citizens notify the city about frequently reported issues, from potholes and traffic signal malfunctions to missed garbage cans on collection day.
The city was losing about 100,000 calls a year to long hold times, but couldn't afford to hire more employees. "The app allows us to increase our capacity to take more calls, be more responsive and improve accountability," said City Manager John Shirey in a statement.
Other cities are seeking smart solutions: In 2012, grants from IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge helped Louisville, Ky. use data to identify and mitigate asthma-triggering conditions, and Jacksonville, Fla. outline steps for a downtown revitalization.