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BAML: Smart Cities & Their Technical Infrastructure Will Dominate the Future

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The world is transforming in several senses. The election of Donald Trump highlighted a stark difference between voters in elite metropolitan areas, who overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton, and the vast middle of the road in smaller, more average cities, which primarily voted for Donald Trump. This sharp divide is also revealed in a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report. The divide between major “ smart cities ” and the forgotten middle will lead to investing opportunity.

Technology will monitor, manage advanced societies

Smart cities, which will embrace technology to unprecedented degrees for security and infrastructure management, account for 85% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product but only 55% of the world’s population. BAML’s report titled “21st Century Cities: Global Smart Cities Primer Picks” points to global cities such Singapore, London, New York, Paris and Tokyo as world leaders in developing and utilizing technology that increasingly will manage security and infrastructure.Faced with growing challenges from crime and infrastructure management, BAML’s Global Thematic Investing equity strategy team, led by Sarbjit Nahal, believes “Smart Cities can use disruptive technologies to tackle these challenges.”

For instance, a smart city extensively uses drones and surveillance cameras for law enforcement. When a human police officer is involved, they all have body cameras that capture their daily interactions, holding them accountable to a degree. The use of wearable detection systems, from smartphones that track an individual’s location and can actually collect audio and video communications, to more permeant detection methods that are actually embedded into the body, is technology that can also connect users to the internet from wherever they are located.

From an infrastructure standpoint, smart cities will feature transportation sensors, wastewater monitoring, parking and bridge inspecting system and they will be loaded with self-driving cars. They include algorithmically driven lighting and energy management systems as well as automated fire detection. These are the features of smart cities, and there are a number of companies that are targeting the opportunity.

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