I don’t like the term “smart city”. That may seem odd, since it’s the world I live in. But the term has become so diluted through misuse and overuse, that it’s lost any real traction. Few people really seem to know what it means any more. So, it might be helpful to review what we mean by a smart city. And that starts by asking – what does it take to be an intelligent and efficient organization?
I define the city organization as the departments and personnel, including administration, engaged in a city’s operations and the delivery of services to its citizens. In my view, that’s what must be in place for the city organization to effectively claim a smart city status. And to achieve it, there are a four key ‘must-haves’:
Leaders must clearly understand, define and publicly state the core mission of the city organization. There’s no room for ambiguity. Leadership must also get the buy-in to that core mission from everyone: departments, employees and residents. City leadership must have a clear vision and strategy for moving the city in a direction consistent with the mission. And that vision and strategy must guide every decision. Finally, leaders at all levels must work together to create an environment of value, engagement, ownership and accountability.
Processes in detail
Each department across the city organization must have well-defined and well-documented process maps for every step of each process they execute. That should include all the intersections and dependencies that exist across and between departments and functions. Knowing exactly what data, inventory, materials and operations are necessary for the process is also key. And no detail is unimportant. The process definition exercise must also offer the chance to eliminate waste and redundancies. That includes admin, data collection, unnecessary steps, spending and effort.
Defining quality metrics up front is another ‘must do’. That means setting out the KPIs that can best track and report on performance to fully understand the organization at all levels. Those KPIs must show the quality and efficiency of operations, as well as the outcomes they deliver to citizens. So, measuring everything and anything that supports that goal is essential. It’s important, too, for cultivating a culture of value, engagement, ownership and accountability.
Data driven mindset
Another must have? A structure to analyze collected data and use the resulting insights to drive continuous improvement. Everyone must be willing to share the right data with the right people across the city organization at the right time. It’s imperative to avoid any data silos.
The focus of all this? Making sure that a city organization is completely driven by the need to deliver the most efficient delivery of services and to support the best possible quality of life for city residents and visitors.
So, having read through these are you a truly smart city?
Agree? Disagree? Do you think I’m being too stringent? Is this possible to put in place? Let’s have a conversation or leave me a comment. I’m happy to engage and show you how to make this happen. Visit our cities content hub for more.