The global smart city transformation is underway
Slowly but surely we are beginning to see a transformation take place in many parts of the world, as governments and councils realise they need to take a holistic approach to future city-wide development. In Australia, for example, we see that Adelaide, Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Sydney, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast have all been identified as being among the leading smart cities. The Netherlands also has great examples of emerging Smart Cities including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven.
While it can be difficult for councils to obtain funding for Smart City projects – there are many things that cities can do within their existing budget. Every city needs to develop its vision and leadership from the top down and requires a Smart Council to lead initiatives. Councils need to consider how one aspect of a Smart City can benefit another. For example, how can communication technologies such as WiFi, mobile broadband, apps, M2M, Internet of Things (IoT) and smart micro-grids be used to achieve synergy or asset sharing?
Even more importantly, perhaps, is establishing community Buy-in for Smart City projects. Directly engaging with citizens, businesses and others can establish the essential support required for developments - and they can also assist in building business models that can lead to investment.
For those operating in the telecoms sector – smart city developments offer enormous opportunities going forward. Billions of dollars are already being poured into the essential telecoms infrastructure and technologies required for smart cities. Implementing an holistic IoT infrastructure using sensors and M2M requires the heavy involvement of the telecoms industry. Establishing the networking solutions is also important and this is where developments such as Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) are being closely monitored.
To progress towards a smart city, local councils should lead the vision, set the strategy, and work side-by-side with their citizens, neighbourhood communities, businesses, local stakeholders and others. They need to abolish the internal silo mentality. Most of the political and financial powers still reside with state and federal governments and transformation is also often needed to create a better and more equal level of collaboration between all levels of government. As local councils still have a long way to go, state and federal governments will need to guide and support local councils in this complex transformation process.