Cities must differentiate themselves to attract investment and productive residents. This coupled with financial constraints, fast-growing populations and aging infrastructures drive investment in smart-city solutions.
IDC Government Insights believes smart cities are the cities of the future and offer more attractive places to live and invest. Smart cities more efficiently utilize their municipal infrastructure, human resources and massive volumes of collected data to improve services. Benefits range from reduced traffic congestion and on-time public transportation to faster and more responsive emergency and public-safety services. Cities achieve this by modernizing their IT systems or tapping their existing IT infrastructure and proactively engaging with residents.
There’s clearly momentum for smart-city solutions, especially in the areas of public safety, transportation and utilities, but there are many definitions of what it means to be “smart” and various methodologies for assessing, ranking and benchmarking cities.
Varying definitions of what constitutes a smart city and the complexity of smart solutions make it difficult for city leaders to know where to begin in their smart-city planning. This lack of understanding inhibits necessary steps CIOs and others must take in order to identify the highest priority initiatives for their cities and actually begin to implement solutions.
Failure to start the smart-city journey now will leave these cities behind in terms of attractiveness to investors and residents. There are several key questions local government leaders should ask:
Identifying key smart technologies and examples of successful implementations will guide the first steps in developing a smart city. Here are some key elements of smart-city solutions:
Most cities already have invested in component parts that can support an overall smart-city strategy. Others may begin their smart journey with a few technology purchases such as a license plate reader or traffic camera, and some will start with a full-scale domain solution. Whatever the path, city planners and administrators need to start looking at smart deployments in similar cities and put smart projects on their technology roadmap.
Ultimately, I see successful smart cities entering a positive feedback loop. As these cities invest and develop smart solutions, they will generate buzz and interest as their citizens and local businesses are more engaged and satisfied, and city revenues are used more effectively. As a result, these cities will attract more tax-generating residents and businesses. This, in turn, will provide these cities with more revenues to invest in more smart solutions.
Here are some actions to take to build a smart city:
Some municipalities may need outside guidance for defining their smart-city priorities. Established manufacturers and service providers can assist in those efforts.