What smart city trends not only suggest, but are continually showing us, is that an integrated digital infrastructure is mandatory in order to achieve the goals of raising living standards and effective citizen engagement. New technological solutions provide solutions for most of the difficulties an individual may encounter, but the ones that are implementing them in the city should have a few things in mind.
First of all, they must understand why they are building a digital infrastructure and second, making all decisions with consideration of national and international acts and commitments to climate change. Like any transformation of an urban area, a digital infrastructure seeks to either provide or improve economic opportunities, job creation and ultimately to deliver a better quality of life for all citizens.
Integrating digital solutions when re-thinking the city can deliver a number of benefits in areas like:
- Cost reduction – sensors and apps can provide better management of key services thus boosting their efficiency
- Time-saving – reducing congestion on public roads, providing citizens with simple a services framework will empower them to make better decisions when traveling inside the city. The aim here should be to keep them out of their private cars as much as possible!
- Strong security measures – by constantly protecting the digital infrastructure against threats and interruptions. Citizens will be happy to engage as long as they know their data is not being put at threat
- Services reliability – by anticipating possible interruptions in the provision of key services
- Remember every citizen – it is easy for city leaders to think digital and imagine that the younger generations will engage with their solutions, but a successful digital city will find ways to engage and improve the life of every citizen of every generation
The IoT market is expected to impact close to 6% of the global economy by 2020, but for the moment there are some challenges it can only overcome with the help of policy makers.
The political framework is not yet updated to serve and let this industry develop smoothly. As a result, public investment in this area is lacking, beginning at the educational level, where there is a shortage of individuals trained in ICT skills, ending with unfounded fears about data security among the citizens.
A great example of strong public-private collaboration that is reflected in the price and quality of services citizens is the smart city strategy of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in London. Digital Greenwich is the Borough’s hotshot team that are tasked with the project’s planning and implementation. As Paul Copping told us in a recent interview, their job “is to create a joined-up Smart City infrastructure, this will enable everything to be efficient and competitive for citizen services and to deal with population growth without any growth in the budget.” And the way to achieve that is by “setting up a collaborative procurement framework which will enable local authorities to buy from vendors on a scale which means that they can get a more achievable volume to the level of integration that they need to deal with on smart city platforms.”
Basically, they want investors to realise the public authorities potential to be a market on their own. The possibilities are there it just takes a change of mindset from all parties to achieve great things!