Councils will have to take a leadership role in developing smart cities in order to keep pace with the technological developments that their citizens are embracing and the expectations they have in relation to the economic, social and lifestyle aspects of their city. Increasingly less leadership can be expected from other levels of government, yet at the same time it is the councils that are suffering from the burden of issues such as economic transformation, the need for job growth, sustainability and liveability, city infrastructure and the lifestyle of their citizens.
Internationally we are seeing an increase in the economic and political power of cities. New technological developments in infrastructure, digital services and consumer devices are empowering people, cities, regions and communities. A key element of the digital economy is that it is removing cost associated with traditional business models. The sharing economy model makes citizens active participants in many of the smart city initiatives.
This allows cities to become more deeply involved in developing visions and strategies that will see them taking advantage of the social and economic benefits that these developments can bring.
In many cases people and businesses are ahead of governments in adopting these new developments to their advantage and they are demanding that their local councils also use these new developments to improve the lives of their citizens and the communities they live in.
It is therefore vitally important that cities show leadership, take charge and generate a smart city vision – facilitating the development of a smart city by creating a smart council (open government, open data), stimulating collaboration, and informing and promoting the benefits of a smart city to its citizens.
The implementation of the various projects should then be left to private industry, which should, together with the citizens, start filling in what it means for them to be a smart city. While conceptually the smart city vision is a universal one, the filling in of the smart grid agenda and the execution should be left as much as possible to private industry.
A proactive local government is a vital element in creating a smart city vision and in facilitating those developments that will deliver community benefits in economic progress, energy and water management, telecommunications, sustainability, transport, education, healthcare, community services, job creation and much more.
Post-GFC, with a new economic reality of less federal or state money available for local projects, councils will have to become more actively involved in providing a vision of the future for their city, especially if they aspire to becoming involved in smart cities based on smart infrastructure and smart services. Local councils can be the catalyst in creating a well-connected city, using smart energy, smart telecoms, industrial M2M, consumer IoT, cloud computing, datacentres and data analytics. The best smart city will be the one that has the best apps.
Over the last 15 years BuddeComm has been assisting over 50 local councils in developing smart city strategies.