Achieving Smart City Status in 3 Easy Steps

More cities are investing in smart technology that leverages data analytics to enhance problem solving and boost long-term sustainability

By Mary Velan


More cities are investing in smart technology that leverages data analytics to enhance problem solving and boost long-term sustainability.

How To Be A Smart City

A recent whitepaper from Frost & Sullivan explained that achieving smart city status does not require a large budget or a significant amount of resources. Rather, cities of any size can become a smart city by adopting and optimizing advanced analytics and open data initiatives.

Municipalities have access to massive streams of information constantly being updated in real time. This data is derived from public departments, programs, services and other entities and must be properly collected and analyzed to support real-time decision making and long-term planning. Cloud computing helps cities with limited resources to obtain analytic capabilities, as does analytics offered as a service.

Most cities are using at least one of four main types of analytics to better understand the activities going on in the community:

  • Geospatial
  • Descriptive
  • Predictive
  • Prescriptive

The researchers recommend cities consider a framework approach using any combination of three methods to get the most out of their analytics expenditures. These three methods include:

  • Integrating new data with legacy data: Aggregate, organize and manage data, then apply analytics
  • Combining insight across multiple domains: Leverage analytics and insight across government domains, then optimize program management
  • Add open data: Empower citizens by distributing data and encouraging citizen participation

These tips can be helpful as many government CIOs struggle to take full advantage of the volumes of data available to them. Frost & Sullivan reported 33 percent of government IT managers consider data storage growth as their top challenge. To overcome this challenge, 37 percent of regional and local governments have moved to cloud computing to meet growing system space requirements of analytics, while 57 percent are expected to transition by 2016.

Change The Mindset

The Urban Sustainability Directors Network recently released an in-depth guide for North American cities interested in achieving smart city status. The goal of the guide is to illustrate the transformative role that innovation and technology can play in boosting municipal efficiency. The guide focuses on three main themes city leaders should consider when adopting smart policies to improve sustainability and economic growth:
  • Putting People First: Smart cities are formed from citizen-led approaches that focus on individual residents’ experiences in the urban environment. Governments should use digital strategies to engage citizens, collect feedback and build tools around those needs.
  • Creating an Innovation-Rich Culture: Cities should encourage a sustainability marketplace that caters to scalable, manageable data tools. Cities must hire chief innovation officers, sponsor hackathons and embrace a trial and error phase before finding the right innovation tools for the community’s needs.
  • Building New Capacities for Smart Cities: Cities should also develop partnerships with the tech sector through competitions and no-cost collaborations to supplement capacity. Municipalities can incorporate IT into all departments for a fully integrated approach to innovation.

Cities should not try to compete with the private sector, but rather align resources and goals to spur growth for all participating entities.

One example of a smart city strategy can be seen in Kansas City where 25 interactive, digital information kiosks have been deployed throughout the community. The kiosks can double as free Wi-Fi spots and will be strategically placed along the city’s two-mile downtown streetcar line where commercial businesses and heavy foot traffic are prevalent, Route Fifty reported.

The kiosks will provide residents and visitors with information on local amenities, 311 city agency information and other must-know tid bits. The kiosks will also house sensors to track traffic flow, street lighting and other urban setting data, Route Fifty reported.

Kansas City will fund the $15.37 million smart city corridor project through a public-private partnership with Cisco Systems and Think Big Partners, which will contribute a total of $12 million to the project, The Kansas City Star reported.

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