Building the Smart City: 8 Things To Get Right

Source: IoT for All | Benson Chan

What is a smart city? In a previous article, we described it as a city that uses technology extensively to achieve key outcomes for its various stakeholders, including residents, businesses, municipal organizations and visitors. We also described the Smart City Ecosystem Framework, a model for building and planning smart cities. In this article, we will identify the eight things that smart city builders must focus on.

The Smart City Ecosystem Model

Technology is top of mind in the smart city, but it is just one layer of many in the smart city ecosystem (Figure One). Each layer has a different but equally important role. No one layer is more relevant than another.

For example, technology “powers” the smart city, but it is data that leads to insights and new services. However, to create relevant services, cities must be able to innovate the right solutions. To get the right outcomes that matter consistently and at scale, civic leaders must establish sensible technology and data policies. Finally, savvy cities use public private partnerships (PPP) to maximize their resources, go faster and scale effectively.

Eight Priorities for Smart City Ecosystem Architects

A new generation of community and technology leaders, managers and solutions providers is needed to build this smart city ecosystem. These architects think broadly and work across layers. They operate in the intersection of technology, innovation, business, operations, strategy and people. This is the “no man’s” land where traditional boundaries, processes, policies and rules fail. This is where the hardest problems are. And this is where the real smart city begins.

In building the cities of tomorrow, these smart city ecosystem architects must focus on these eight areas:

1. Break silos and build bridges. A sustainable and well functioning smart city is a tight orchestration of people, processes, policies and technologies working together across the entire smart city ecosystem. These architects unify teams across municipal departments. They build bridges to connect public and private organizations within the ecosystem. They build consensus to co-create the new city.

2. Focus on outcomes that matter. A smart city is not about technology, but about using technology together with the various ecosystem layers to create the results residents, businesses, municipal organizations and visitors care about. These results, or outcomes, are aligned around the needs of the city – government efficiency, sustainability, health and wellness, mobility, economic development, public safety and quality of life.

3. Engage a broader community of innovators. Within the smart city, innovation and value creation comes not only from municipal agencies, but, from businesses, communities (business districts, “smart” buildings, housing complexes), and individual residents. Smart city ecosystem architects unify the various layers to enable, incentivize, facilitate and scale this larger community to co-create the smart city together.

4. Develop mastery in policymaking and partnerships. Policies and partnerships are the catalysts of the smart city. They augment and amplify limited city resources and capabilities, scale faster, while minimizing risk. Effective smart city ecosystem architects unite the needs of policymakers, technologists and innovators to create sensible policies that create the right outcomes. They proactively seek out public and private collaborators and build sustainable and synergistic partnerships.

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