Smart cities will use 1.6 billion connected things in 2016, an increase of 39% from this year, according to a recent report from Gartner Inc.

Smart commercial buildings will be the biggest users of the Internet of Things (IoT) until 2017, after which smart homes will take the lead with just over 1 billion connected things in 2018, said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research vice president at Gartner. IoT creates a unified view of facilities management and advanced service operations through the collection of data and insights from a multitude of sensors, Gartner says.

"Especially in large sites, such as industrial zones, office parks, shopping malls, airports or seaports, IoT can help reduce the cost of energy, spatial management and building maintenance by up to 30%," Tratz-Ryan said.

The business applications that are fueling the growth of IoT in commercial buildings are handled through building information management systems that drive operations management, the report says, particularly around energy efficiency and user-centric service environments. In 2016, commercial security cameras and Webcams as well as indoor LEDs will drive total growth of the market, accounting for 24% of the IoT market for smart cities.

IoT deployment in commercial buildings will continue to expand at a fast pace over the next few years, the study notes, and is on pace to reach just over 1 billion in 2018.

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