The trend around smart cities has been part of the conversation for many years now as we look to a future that will be equipped to sustain larger populations, be more resourceful and help to improve day to day life through advanced technology. As the world’s population has continued to expand at a more rapid pace with new generations coming in at larger volumes and outliving their ancestors, the importance of a more sustainable way of living is becoming increasingly critical.

The thought of smart cities comes through the technology boom that has changed and fast-forwarded the world into a new era built off of faster, easier, more accessible forms of technology.

“This innovation has impacted the daily lifestyles of us all, the industries that run our economy, our environmental impact and ultimately the generations of the future. Bringing us into a digital age, we are now as a society able to live and operate in a more interconnected way, tapping into what is happening around us without traditional boundaries,” shares property developer Marcus Hiles, who has leveraged this approach in his expansive development projects that put smart living first. The limitlessness of today’s technology is what attracts a continuous stream of investments and improvements that will ultimately position us to run our cities smarter.

Smart cities are a concept focused on improving our urban environments by leaning in on technology to fuel growth, innovation and cultural dynamism while the expansion of urbanization continues. This idea brings the technology used in our personal and professional lives into the infrastructure of today’s urban environments to improve quality and sustainability of congested locations. And with cities historically attracting the highest percentages of populations, the projections only show this trend will get even more concentrated and require even more infrastructure to support.

Analysts are predicting the global population will reach over 9.5 billion over the next three decades and out of that it is estimated that two thirds of these residents will live in cities. This means the world could see up to 10% more residents in urban environments than what has been reported over the last two years. Although we cannot know for sure, it is safe to say taking steps to create smarter cities is a global initiative that will bring positive impacts worldwide.

The ability to leverage data, smarter infrastructure, technologies and innovation networks to improve daily operations and services of cities will not only help to improve quality of living and environmental impacts but ultimately will aide in bringing capital to urban areas. This is why private firms such as Cisco, global leader in the IT and cybersecurity space, are participating in financing programs that seek to jump-start technical innovation in these hot-bed locations. Playing a vital role in the future growth of these next generation metros, the private sector has become a key pillar in making smart cities a possibility as governments alone are unable and ill-equipped to put up the funding needed to take these initiatives to the next level.

Though, smart cities are not just a path to the future, they are already shaping around us today. Areas such as HoustonIndianapolisLos Angeles and Sacramento have been experiencing the benefits that can be accomplished through city-wide innovation. It may just be a starting point but we are now seeing smart buildings, transportation systems, resource efficiency, safety and security projects that are putting technology to use in ways that benefit large populations over long periods of time. With the global footprint of technology-forward urban locations expected to surge 26% in the next four years alone, it won’t be long until the full value is realized.

It may not be the next five years or even ten years before these digital ecosystems are the norm but as they continue to grow it is certain they will bring a more sustainable, informational and smarter future that is more accessible to us all.