Cities have become the hub of human activity and economic progress. We find more and more people leaving smaller towns and reaching out into cities to make a dwelling, as well as make a living.
Thriving cities are ones that offer easier movement for their citizens and convenience in everything that they do. These cities create efficiencies in all that they do, and they leave a sustainable heritage to follow. Such cities develop potential that can create synergies for better opportunities for their citizens.
Smart Cities work on ways that think of the present and the future, create a culture of imagination and needs, and work on ways to find technologies that will support them to make 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 divisions. It’s important that a Smart City Strategy encompasses every department and works in tandem with each other, 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.
Narrowing down the strategy, the following steps are recommended in building a Smart City Strategy:
Community focus | 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 their 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 fast 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 not understanding the pain-points, technology can be disruptor rather than an agent of change. Therefore, clearly understanding the problems and writing a plan around mitigating these problems becomes 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 and devices need to generate data, and these need to 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. This is a complex problem that needs to be resolved.
Choosing the right partner and deploying pilots | Efforts must be made to find the right partner, where the partner can deploy an end-to-end solution, and take away the pain of dealing with multiple partners. This defeats the purpose of running the whole city under a single network architecture. Councils must better understand how data is managed by the partners, how well the system is integrated, and how secure these processes are.
Deploying pilots | Once these processes are better understood, it would be advisable to devise pilot programs for different solutions. Pilot programs need to be time and outcome defined so that they do not run endlessly and without a clearly defined end. Short pilots, using the same teams for each, help in understanding any pitfalls or bottlenecks and the corrective actions needed to ensure a mass-rollout can happen smoothly to get the Smart City into motion technologically.
Words George Verghese | Sylvania Connected Solutions
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