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Smart city 2.0: Examples of the second wave in smart city transformation

The term "smart city" doesn't describe a sci-fi utopia. A smart city is simply one that uses technology to improve outcomes across every aspect of city operations and enhance the services it offers to its residents. So what is big data's role in the equation?

Smart city trends: Moving beyond infrastructure

A smart city collects and uses open data to drive its decision-making, and creates networks of partners among governments, businesses, nonprofits, community groups, universities, and hospitals to expand and improve its ability to serve its residents.

Some more advanced smart cities have begun to move beyond infrastructure, to using big data. A truly smart city example leverages new-found data to tap the wisdom of its residents and visitors. The digital infrastructure of a smart city allows access to data that can unleash tremendous value, driving smarter decision-making by planners, community groups, and individual residents.

This article includes smart city examples from Amman, Buenos Aires, Boston, Sydney, Boulder, and New York City.

Cities are complex economic and cultural ecosystems. For civic leaders worried about the details of implementation, the technology can seed change in six urban domains. This article presents smart city trends in each area:

  • Economy
  • Mobility
  • Security
  • Education
  • Living
  • Environment

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The smart city framework

A strong smart city framework can demystify the complexities of bringing smart technology to a city. City leaders can use this framework to build their own strategies. Such strategies, however, should consider five key factors:

  1. Vision: Before embarking on any significant smart city initiative, determine what being a "smart city" actually means to your city, and how to measure progress toward your goals. A basic statement such as "We want to be more connected" isn't enough. Successful smart city visions should be ambitious but specific, with clear criteria and timeframes for success.
  2. Ecosystem: Public-sector stakeholders play critical roles in making cities smarter, but embracing smart city principles while still operating within traditional government silos can be a recipe for wasted effort. The smart city of the future must convene problem solvers and think beyond traditional boundaries. This requires it to assemble an ecosystem of partners across government, established businesses, startups, the academic sector, and the nonprofit world.
  3. Governance: Because they often seek to unite this diverse ecosystem of stakeholders, smart cities require clearly defined governance. City leaders, regional governments, transportation districts, corporate and nonprofit partners, and, depending on the funding model, state and federal agencies may all participate in establishing and executing a smart city vision. Stakeholders should be able to articulate their responsibilities, ensure that appropriate information flows to the right decision-makers, and give the people with the authority to make decisions a stake in the outcomes. Establish accountability up front and create mechanisms to drive timely decisions.
  4. Technology underpinnings: The precise technology required for each smart city will differ according to each city's unique needs. All smart cities, however, should integrate the technological foundation of their efforts, including system architecture, data governance, interoperability, and cybersecurity.
  5. Funding: Novel approaches to municipal governance deserve novel approaches to financing. Traditional funding sources such as tax revenue and municipal bonds can be supplemented by public and private funding from sources such as joint enterprises and contractual partnerships. Crowdfunding or "green" funding may be worth exploring as well.

Read the article to get started on your smart city journey.

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