High-income cities have dominated the adoption of smart technologies. A McKinsey survey found that most of these cities are in countries where smart phone penetration exceeds 90 percent while low adoption could be equally matched to most low-income cities in countries where the penetration rate was 60 percent or lower.
But there are exemptions to this, a couple of African countries; Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos, outranked some cities in the more developed countries.
Nairobi ranked second in the strength of smart city technology base in Africa, behind Cape Town and ahead of Lagos. Globally, New York, Singapore and Abu Dhabi ranked top in their regions.
The survey also found that a majority of African cities are lagging behind their global counterparts in the application of technology to solve health, security and transportation challenges. Few have installed devices like air quality monitoring sensors or embedded digital healthcare services
Cities in Europe, North America, China, and East Asia had the most developed technology bases, while those in Latin America, Africa, and India lag behind.
The study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute(MGI), also found that cities deploying the greatest numbers of applications overall are moving forward in all domains.
Nairobi also ranked second in Africa, for deployment of smart city applications. Again Cape Town emerged the best in Africa. This was based on how respective cities use smart city applications in mobility, security, utilities, healthcare, economic development, housing and community.
The effectiveness of smart city applications has been dependent on low-tech measures and how cities formulate and implement complementary policies.
MGI further surveyed local residents about the applications implemented in their cities. Nairobi residents scored 14.5 out of 30 points in the combined awareness, usage, and satisfaction index, behind Dubai and Cape Town in the Middle East and Africa region indicating an average level of awareness.
According to the survey, some of the smart city applications that will be relevant for smart cities through 2025 include real-time crime-mapping, real-time air quality information, real-time public transit information, building automation systems and optimization of waste collection routes among others.