How the Internet of Things Will Change Urban Areas Forever

Tech Skilled Workers Will Play a Critical Role in the Transformation of Our Cities

According to the UN, more than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and that number is projected to grow to almost two-thirds by 2050. This means that another 2.5 billion people will be living in cities in the next 35 years. The size of these cities is projected to grow tremendously as well.

In 2014, there were 28 megacities (cities with more than 10 million people) worldwide. By 2030, that number is projected to grow to 41. John Wilmoth, director of UN DESA’s population division, sums it up succinctly when he says “managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century.”

And it isn’t just city planning that will need to evolve in order to accommodate this growth. Cities cannot grow sustainably unless there are jobs to support its denizens. New York City, for example, is unlikely to revert to its manufacturing roots anytime soon, so what industries are likely to emerge as we continue into the heart of the 21st century? And what skillsets will workers need to acquire to meet this demand?

To many experts, the answer is technology and innovation. And many of the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century economy will likely be those related to coding, development, and other tech skills driven by the burgeoning IoT economy.

Over the past couple of years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most widely-discussed concepts related to the current era of technology. Built on a network of sensors and internet-connected devices, the IoT has begun changing industries to the core, from manufacturing to marketing and just about everything in between.

Now the IoT is looking at revolutionizing not just how we work and consume, but also how we live. As the costs of sensors and technology drop, governments around the world are looking at how the IoT revolution can change the cities we live in, and will put approximately $41 trillion over the next 20 years toward improving efficiencies and streamlining services throughout urban infrastructures--as long as the world has enough developers and tech skilled workers to meet IoT demands.

The current gap between the skills necessary to accommodate this projected growth economy and the available workforce could be “opportunity knocking” for anyone with the right skills looking to enter the workforce or change career focus.

Currently there are upward of 300,000 working developers contributing to IoT growth. Unfortunately, this is a far cry from the approximately 4.5 million developers that will be needed by 2020 to create and maintain an Internet of Things capable of solving the challenges set forth by urban growth and development.

The good news is that as coding has become the new literacy. Although more students are graduating with some of the tech skills to support this growing trend toward a connected future, it’s not enough. Those who are looking to increase skills in this area, are subscribing to a variety of targeted solutions such as coding bootcamps that can help prepare them with in-demand skills for the growing IoT economy. Everyone including the government, education, and the private sector has a role in preparing more developers and tech skilled workers to support the digital transformation of urban centers. Collaborating and doing this well can lead to positive changes in just a few years, making cities unrecognizable by today’s standards.

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