Sowing the seeds for success
Over the years, municipal leaders have regularly sought out a variety of innovative and technological solutions to meet the daily challenges faced by cities and citizens globally.
Just as cities in the 1950’s responded to the pressures of rapid urbanisation by using cars and concrete, today they are responding to a series of mega-pressures, such as climate change, inequality and an ageing population by adopting digitisation, IoT and urban analytics.
This fusion of technology with the built environment – combined with innovative service delivery, has become known as “The Smart City”. Leaders of authorities such as Sydney, the West Midlands, Vantaa, Barcelona, San Francisco and Toronto are re-imagining the future of their cities and how they might implement change.
Whilst some may feel this digitally dynamic utopia is just a distant dream, others with a bold, innovative agenda, have begun collaborating with cross-industry partners to make what seems like a fantasy, a reality.
OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS TO IMPLEMENT – THEMES TO SUCCESS
Having been involved in the Smart City market, globally, we have been fortunate enough to form deep relationships across industry forums, innovation agencies, research institutes and various local authorities. Combining this with working with cities like Ipswich, Atlanta, and Copenhagen to embark on their own Smart City journeys we have identified four common “themes of success”.
- ALIGN THE VISION TO THE CITY STRATEGY AND BREAK DOWN SILOS
Jane Jacobs, a world-renowned author and urban activist once wrote that “private investment shapes cities, but social ideas shape private investment. First comes the image of what we want, then the machinery is adapted to turn out that image”, and the same still rings true for any authority looking to embark on a Smart City Transformation journey.
Key urban stakeholders must look to co-create a comprehensive visioning piece which drives consensus on the key aims, objectives, and measures of success as well as communicating the measurable business case for dedicating precious resources to it.
- CITIZEN MUST BE AT THE HEART OF THE ENGAGEMENT
Those who will ultimately fund and experience the outcomes of any Smart City initiative are the citizens and the visitors of the city, for too long we have hypothesised around what people want versus asking or observing them – we need to engage people in driving the design. New digital tools such as ‘Dscout’ also make this easier than ever before. When designing or implementing any Smart City project, influential stakeholders must draw upon the bottom-up narrative that citizens have to offer.
By incorporating their opinions and daily observations, strategists and planners can identify both the visible and invisible pain points of a community as well as draw upon the underlying and unwritten insights or ideas they may have to offer.
In our next blog post, we will explore the final two themes of success that are needed on the journey to become a smart city.
Keen to hear your thoughts on what it takes to embark on a smart city transformation journey. Leave a comment or read more about our work with cities on our content hub.