The alliance approach to "smart cities"

New ideas for financing, partnerships, procurement, and governance

Traditional models for municipal projects may no longer be enough to capitalize on the benefits that the fast-moving "smart cities" ecosystem offers. The alliance approach offers a new way to develop partnerships, generate financing, and increase procurement flexibility, while testing, deploying, and scaling smart cities solutions that provide tangible results.

A new world demands new thinking

Many cities have already embarked on their journeys toward the interoperable, interconnected infrastructure that is the backbone of a smart city—using technology to better manage urban assets such as public transit, wastewater systems, and roads; and with physical assets networked via sensor technology to generate streams of valuable data from “smart” parking meters, streetlights, and even trash receptacles.

Yet, this powerful vision eludes other urban centers that remain hampered by budget shortfalls, complex stakeholder relationships, and the previous century’s approaches to imagining, delivering, and managing large infrastructure projects.

The previous methodology simply can’t address the new opportunities that await cities willing and ready to create urban environments that are economically and socially inclusive, resilient, and environmentally friendly. Smart cities require smart choices and a tight working relationship among its leaders who are ready and willing to employ them.

The alliance approach charts a new way forward

At the heart of the alliance approach beats innovative funding methods that share the costs and risks of developing affordable new technologies and the ability to realize their full potentials. Its key attributes include:

  • Innovative financing—funding of and generating revenue for smart city solutions in an era of tight budgets and mixed credit ratings.
  • Collaborative partnerships—integrating and coordinating activities and responsibilities across a range of public and private partners.
  • Nimble procurement—finding innovative ways to put shared value creation front and center, sharing risks and benefits.
  • Dedicated governance—creating ways to work across the ecosystem, provide leadership, break down silos, and enable speed, flexibility, and learning from both successes and failures.

Embarking on infrastructure, mobility, and Internet of Things programs is seldom done within a “greenfield” urban landscape. Improving and reimagining buildings, transit systems, and governance approaches will always be complex. While new traffic management systems, or Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions, and data sharing among numerous parties may generate new revenue opportunities, cities still face lots of questions that the alliance approach helps answer.

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