Smart Cities | Combine

Smart Cities

Smart cities are all about introducing services that provide information in such a way that cities can be managed more efficiently. By submitting information to employees, citizens, and local businesses, these can act on their own and use commons sense in their decisions. Reducing central administration can enable a person working with road maintenance to respond autonomously to handle recently reported damage in the vicinity of the person. Typically, a central administration needs to handle the problem and delegate to the appropriate resource. But for this to work, individual citizens need to help report issues. The threshold for reporting something needs to be low enough at the same time as it results in a visible result shortly.

Smart cities are all about introducing services that provide information in such a way that cities can be managed more efficiently. By submitting information to employees, citizens, and local businesses, these can act on their own and use commons sense in their decisions. Reducing central administration can enable a person working with road maintenance to respond autonomously to handle recently reported damage in the vicinity of the person. Historically, a central administration needs to handle the problem and delegate to the appropriate resource. But for this to work, individual citizens need to help report issues. The threshold for reporting something needs to be low enough at the same time as it results in a visible result shortly.

This scenario can be solved through regular CRM-systems which are connected to smartphone applications for increased accessibility. Someone who works in maintenance would continuously be able to see what needs to be done. But this is only one application. There is potentially much more information to gather given that you can measure things. The city can then become a platform on which a multitude of services can be built. Mind though that the data of the city must be appropriately managed since sensitive information may be abused.

As a citizen, you need to log into the system to participate. It may be excluding since all participants, such as citizens and companies, may not have access to either hardware to access or knowledge of how to use the systems.

If a city has been instrumented with sensors and processes for gathering other information is in place with the purpose of controlling the infrastructure, an increase in city efficiency is likely to be achieved. At the same time, the sensitivity of the city concerning disturbances has probably increased. It means that essential features of the city are likely to be severely disturbed due to uncomplicated incidents, or malfunctioning of software. Therefore, the city must be able to handle fault modes effectively.

Increased efficiency could unlock latent needs. Consider a heavily congested road which has new lanes added to it. Since the road now has higher capacity more people decide to go by car leading to new congestions.

Changing the organization and processes of a city can be laborious. Many cities are old and work according to vertical, silo-based bureaucratic principles with roots in the 19th century. Leaders need to break old habits and start thinking horizontally instead and counteract all forms of tribalism among the personnel.

Public procurement and old role descriptions make it difficult to hire small and fast-paced companies because the procurement process is so slow. It makes it difficult to introduce new systems required to transform the city into a “smart” city. The basic idea behind public procurement is to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. The thought is good but hinders fast progress.

Transforming only one single property into a “smart property,” given the number of sensors, actuators and a large number of different communication protocols, is a gargantuan task. Converting a city is an even bigger task by orders of magnitude that requires long-term cooperation between many actors. Hence, it would be unfortunate if the city does not control its information and infrastructures due to outsourcing to some huge company. Cities usually outlive companies by hundreds of years.

 

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