7 steps in building a smart city strategy
Cities have become the hub of human activity as well as economic progress. We find more and more people leaving smaller towns and reaching out into cities to make a dwelling and a living. Thriving cities are ones that offer easier movement for their citizens and convenience in everything that they do. These cities create efficiencies, leave a sustainable heritage to follow and develop potential that can create synergies for better opportunities for their citizens.
Smart cities work on ways that think of the current and the future, create a culture of imagination and needs, and work on ways to find technologies that will support them in making these dreams into realities.
Cities have different divisions or departments including transportation, public infrastructure, urban planning and technology. A smart city plan needs to be a top-layer blanket across all the divisions. It is important that a strategy encompasses every department, and that there are no duplications, economies of scale are achieved and technology sharing can happen smoothly. Thus, every action taken by the city reflects the citizen and their wellbeing.
The following steps are recommended in building a smart city strategy:
This a top-down approach where the focus is on the citizen, their convenience, security, economic independence and their future. A clearly defined smart city strategy will have the citizen and community as the focal point, around which they build their entire strategy.
Creating a smart city culture within the organisation
Smart city strategists should work within their organisations to inculcate the values of creating a culture where every action performed by the council or municipality has the future needs of the citizen in focus, finding ways in which these can be fulfilled quickly and efficiently. If every employee embraces this culture, the thinking revolves around enablers that can fast-track processes into real solutions at every juncture within the organisation.
Defining the needs and translating them into actionable solutions
Technology can be a great problem-solver, but without clearly defining what the prime needs are and understanding the pain points, technology can be a disruptor rather than an agent of change. Clearly understanding the problems and writing a plan around mitigating these problems is a key strategy.
Deploying devices that can generate data for key problem areas
At this point, it is recommended that cities reach out to smart city specialists, who can recommend solutions that can help solve their complex problems.
Create a communication architecture
Devices need to talk to each other, generate data and generate actionable outcomes. The most suitable network architecture should be chosen, depending on the city’s layout, the type of buildings, the distances that need to be covered and the topography, including places that are difficult to reach.
Choosing the right partner
Efforts must be made to find the right partner that can deploy an end-to-end solution. Multiple partners defeats the purpose of running the whole city under a single network architecture. The councils must understand how the data is managed by the partners, how well the system is integrated and how secure these processes are.
Once these are better understood, pilot programs can be devised for different solutions, but they need to be time- and outcome-defined.
Short pilots help in understanding any pitfalls or bottlenecks, and take corrective actions to ensure that a mass rollout can happen smoothly.
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