City governments worldwide are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of enhancing their cities’ ability to withstand or recover quickly from a range of predictable and unpredictable disasters and catastrophes.

This will drive global public spending on urban resilience projects from US$97 billion in 2019 to US$335 billion in 2024, according to a new report from ABI Research, a market foresight firm offering insights into transformative technologies.

“Due to their very high population concentrations, cities are much more vulnerable to the catastrophic potential of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, sea level rise and flooding, food shortages, wildfires, extreme heat, hurricanes, tropical storms and typhoons, terrorist attacks, civil unrest, cyber attacks, war, diseases and epidemics, nuclear or chemical contamination, extreme air pollution and many other emergency situations. So much so that many cities have already appointed a Chief Resilience Officer,” explained Dominique Bonte, Vice President, End Markets at ABI Research.

While the smart cities concept is very much geared toward ensuring liveability of citizens in the present, resilient cities guarantee future liveability in the face of a changing urban environment not only in terms of acute shocks but also in terms of chronic stresses related to economic, financial, environmental, social and institutional crises.

Growth in global public spending on urban resilience projects will be from spending on both physical infrastructure and ICT infrastructure and services.

Resilience spending is currently led by cities in developed regions. The cities of New York and Miami Beach have announced budgets of US$500 million and US$400 million respectively for flood prevention, mitigation of sea level rise and coastal areas reinforcement. By 2024, cities in developing regions will account for 40% of all resilience spending, said the report.  

Resilience strategies and solutions include many components ranging from detection and prediction via advanced sensors and AI-based analytics to alert systems, evacuation procedures, rescue missions and relief response modes in the immediate aftermath and recovery for survivors and the city as a whole in the longer term.

Critical resilience technologies and paradigms include predictive modelling and digital twins (already explored by cities like Cambridge, England and Rotterdam, Netherlands), cybersecurity, redundant infrastructure and system designs, decentralised service provisioning, demand-response optimisation, sharing economy and cross-vertical integration, physical robustness and robotics.

Key suppliers of resilience technologies covered in the report include NEC, Bosch and ZTE. Organisations like 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), the United Nations (Making My City Resilient campaign), and the U.S. National League of Cities (Leadership in Community Resilience programme) are promoting best practices for designing resilient cities.

“Resilience programmes for dense urban areas are closely linked to sustainability efforts aimed at preventing pollution and mitigating the impact of climate change on flooding and other severe weather conditions. According to Lloyd’s City Risk Index, climate-related risks alone account for US$122.98 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) under threat for a sample of 279 cities. With cities being centres of economic activity, minimising loss of GDP is the most important incentive and justification for resilience spending in terms of Return on Investment,” Bonte concluded.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Resilience Technologies and Approaches for Smart Cities application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Cities and Smart Spaces research service, which includes research, data and executive foresights.