The continuous development of big data analytics, sensors and Internet-enabled devices in cities is well known. However, research now indicates why the front runners in the “smart city” tech market are with IBM, Cisco and Schneider Electric in podium positions.

The estimate, released in November by Navigant Research, calculated the trio at the top of an $8.8 billion market in 2014. They forecast that market growth to be $27 billion by 2023. Research pointed to the world’s rapid urbanisation and municipalities growing need for data-driven solutions in energy, the environment, transportation, health care and social programs as drivers for smart city growth.

The top 10 companies expected to supply the smart cities of the future are:

  1. IBM
  2. Cisco
  3. Schneider Electric
  4. Siemens
  5. Microsoft
  6. Hitachi
  7. Huawei
  8. Ericsson
  9. Toshiba
  10. Oracle

Another study, published by Foster and Sullivan in February, estimated the entire smart city market — not just the tech sector — to will be worth $1.5 trillion by 2020.

It added that more than 26 cities globally will be smart cities by 2025 with 50 percent or more located in Europe and North America. And while smart city technology will manifest itself on numerous fronts, the research said that urban mobility — traffic congestion and public transportation options — will be an area where solutions are most readily deployed. This, it stated, could translate into investment for algorithmically timed traffic control stoplights, parking systems and electric vehicle adoption — technologies embedded in IBM services.

“Frost & Sullivan believes that the smart city concept is the future of every modern urbanized city,” said Frost & Sullivan researcher Maxim Perevezentsev. “Every smart city has a unique number of features and characteristics as well as unique business opportunities. Companies in the smart city space will not only partner and converge among themselves to offer ‘smart’ capabilities but will also start converging with different participants in the ecosystem.”

Other key technology components Perevezentsev singled out were smart metering, wireless sensor networks, open data platforms, high-speed broadband and cloud computing. Further, Foster & Sullivan predict that in energy, smart grids — electricity supply networks that use digital communications to dynamically adjust usage in buildings —  will be most pervasive in the U.S. and Europe, with the Asia Pacific region ranking not far behind.