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3 Stocks for the Rise of Smart Cities

MyWallSt Staff, The Motley Fool

This article was first published by MyWallSt.

One of the most important trends of the past century has been the rise of the modern city. More people than ever before are packing themselves into metropolises, with as many as 180,000 people moving from rural to urban spaces every single day. And while cities may never let you down when it comes to accessing Wi-Fi or finding a convenient Starbucks outlet, they often bring a number of problems with them, such as crime, pollution, and traffic.

As well as government initiatives to tackle issues like these, there are a variety of companies out there working on making our cities "smart." Taking on everything from wireless technology to public transport, here are three stocks that are committed to safer, cleaner, happier alternatives to the concrete jungle.

A cityscape at night, with outlines superimposed over tall buildings

Image source: Unsplash.

1. ShotSpotter

ShotSpotter (NASDAQ: SSTI) is a radar system that detects and triangulates gunshots, alerting local police to the location of a shooter within minutes. Currently deployed in almost 100 cities across the U.S., the company's technology has proved indispensable to police departments everywhere from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

For instance, five years after Miami adopted ShotSpotter's system, Mayor Francis Suarez reported that the homicide rate dropped by 35%, while "gunshot incidents as an activity have been reduced by about 50% in the same period of time."

Founded in 1996 by Dr. Robert Showen, an expert in radar technology, ShotSpotter first deployed its system in Redwood City, California (where it is still operational). In 2004, the company enjoyed its first round of venture capital funding from Lauder Partners, allowing it to expand its presence throughout the United States.

On top of its core technology, the company has also branched out into alternative revenue streams, including ShotSpotter Flex, an annual subscription service hosted in the cloud.

2. NVIDIA

"Data is the lifeblood of the modern city."

This bold statement represents the central claim of what may be the most critical company in the smart-city revolution.

NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) has pioneered graphics processing units for the gaming and professional markets. A graphics processing unit, or simply a GPU, is the technology that allows images to appear on a gaming device. NVIDIA coined the term in 1999 with the release of GeForce, which is considered to be the first GPU in the world.

With its highly sophisticated technology, NVIDIA has also explored smart-city solutions, particularly in the realm of artificial intelligence and data analytics. The company offers an advanced tool for retailers and city planners that turns video information into actionable insight.

3. Uber Technologies

A central characteristic of the smart city is efficiency. As Ben Green writes in his book, The Smart Enough City, "Efficiency is a normative goal: it favors particular principles and outcomes at the expense of others, typically altering how status and resources are distributed across society."

Uber Technologies (NYSE: UBER) is on a mission to make transportation more efficient. Operating in over 63 countries and boasting more than 90 million loyal users, the company is a cultural and business phenomenon with few equals.

Beyond its ridesharing and food delivery activities, Uber is also developing futuristic air transportation technology as part of a project it calls "aerial ridesharing." The idea, which the company promises to make into reality by 2023, is to offer commuters a sort of flying taxi, allowing them to soar above the congested freeway on their way to and from work.

If that doesn't sound exciting, then I don't know what does.

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MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Shotspotter. Read our full disclosure policy here.

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The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends NVIDIA and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends Uber Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.