“Checklist” Outlines Key Smart City Components

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Technology has the potential to create unprecedented change in the way our cities operate, introducing a new level of connectivity, engagement and prosperity for all citizens. The world is becoming increasingly urban and by 2050, more than 70 percent will live in major metropolitan areas. How we manage this shift will define the next few decades.

I created Digi.City in order to share information on these very issues as part of a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship focused on smart cities in the U.S. and China, Digi.City is continually evolving as I explore the questions and potential solutions about how cities successfully implement new connected technologies.

Smart cities are no longer conceptual. Leaders from cities large and small are focused on how to integrate and upgrade the technology required to be a smart city. At the heart of this lies local policy. A number of policy challenges must be addressed to ensure that that cities have the appropriate digital infrastructure in place to ensure the timely deployment of smart city technology.      

I’ve attended several conferences over the past year where cities all across the US convene to seek answers to one central question – “How can I make my city a smart city?” As I’ve suggested in previous posts, the foundation lies in the digital infrastructure.  Without reliable and robust high-speed Internet, the coolest smart city technology will be reduced to “cool tools” with limited effectiveness.

In attempts to provide some guidance in this area, I’ve created the Next Generation Networks Checklist – a policy framework designed to help local officials proactively address the challenges of implementing smart city technology and reduce the barriers to timely deployment of next generation networks.  No two cities or situations are the same, but many times there is consistency in the process.  

The Next Generation Networks Checklist is grounded in the principles of transparency, collaboration and effective governance. City leaders are focused and dedicated to the best interest of its city’s citizens and this Checklist seeks to provide clarity about how to deliver that result.  The nuances on how to do this can seem a bit technical to those who are not accustomed to considering permitting issues or how to navigate rights of way (in other words public property that is contained within private property, for example a sidewalk.) But these are the important details that must be deliberated and decided in order to successfully create Smart Cities in the US.      

The Next Generation Networks Checklist is comprised of three main evaluations for city and local leaders. These include:

  • Providing access to public rights-of-way and other public property on reasonable terms.
  • Simplifying zoning and permitting processes.
  • Charging reasonable and uniform rates for rights-of-way access and all attachments.

As I continue to explore the area of smart cities, I am more convinced than ever that technology will transform communities in unimaginable ways.  But to realize that potential, there must be greater alignment around policy and infrastructure. I hope the Next Generation Networks Check List  will be a valuable resource for communities across the U.S. to achieve their 21st century technological goals and, ultimately, provide citizens with a greater level of connectivity and access to prosperity.