The Formula to deliver the Smart City Dream

The pursuit of smart, connected communities is no easy feat. As convenient as it would be, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success. As more than 70% of the world’s population is anticipated to be living in cities by 2050, the challenges of urbanization must be met head-on with innovative solutions.

The world is increasingly interconnected and it is expected that by 2020, there will be 9.7 billion connected things in an urban setting. But the concept of transformation for a smart city is not simply about making some technology upgrades, but core to a city’s ability to thrive is the focus on people.

Changing political priorities, lack of resources, and other hurdles hinder a clear route to fruitful smart city initiatives.

However, among a handful of critical success factors displayed in communities around the world, visionary leadership from city officials shines clearly among them. Whatever unique factors make up the soul of the city, a visionary leader jumps at the opportunity for their place on the map to lead the world in generating flourishing new markets and initiatives, and attracting the best and brightest talent.

Investment and development in new business models provide new rules to generate economic and social value in smart cities. And with innovative coordination among new and different players, unprecedented value is made possible. Using data, cities can inspire new revenue streams through application development, analytics modeling, and asset optimization. Economic viability can soar by cutting the costs of managing day-to-day city operations. By opening the realm of possibility with untapped sources of value, cities can build a deep and lasting foundation for smart city initiatives.

The smart city ecosystem blends a wide array of important factors, and the building of trust and nurturing of these valued relationships is instrumental in working together to create a successful result.

In an urban setting, a number of private and public organizations must come together as a cohort, to develop, implement, and sustain an integrated and sustainable smart city framework.

Our recently updated Value at Stake body of research finds that through 2024, an estimated value of $2.3 trillion is up for grabs in the smart cities space globally; yielding potential cost-savings, efficiencies, and revenue for all those who take advantage of the possibilities at play.

Of those value areas, open data represents a $51 billion slice of the value at stake whole.

Large volumes of rich data will play a central role in how smart cities develop new and improved services, generate revenue, and learn to operate more efficiently. Proficient regulatory policies on data management are increasingly important to both protect economic growth initiatives, as well as to maintain the transparency and security of the data infrastructure.

By 2021, 58 percent of the world’s population will be Internet users. The development of global open standards focused on inclusivity, direct participation, and transparency will fuel innovation and secure interoperability. A flexible, multi-stakeholder approach to global standards establishment will see technology as a crucial enabler, rather than the end objective for a smart city. This will give leaders the tools to ensure better health and wellness, more access to education, and more service value across all aspects of city life, extending to more people with far less of a burden on resources.

Investments in people, and in digital and physical infrastructure are imperative to break down the barriers that constrain innovative change.

City organizations are often inherently separated by leadership, budget, and objectives. However, there is a larger charter that must be observed to build a successful smart city. This requires that sustainability from economic, social, and environmental perspectives are achieved to make the city more livable and prosperous for all those that call it home.

The path to smart cities is a journey, not a destination. To truly transform and prosper is a never-ending quest. Considering what’s at stake in cities around the world – large demographic shifts, economic rebalancing, environmental change, political turmoil – the consequences of inaction are no longer an option. Where do we want to go, where is it that we envision ourselves in the next decade and beyond? We must start now, tomorrow will not wait.


The interview was filmed with Sarah Lockett, Business Correspondent of The Business Debate and Amr Salem, Global MD, Smart Cities, IoT- Cisco.

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