Ten (10) Tips to Successfully Deploy Smart Cities

Why some cities successfully deploy their “smart” city initiatives whereas others failed? Why some cities take ages to make the first step from Blueprint to a tangible Smart City solution? Why are some cities have tendencies to deploy fancy smart city solutions whereas others start with simple cost reduction solution? What’s the secret of successfully deploying a Smart City?

Here are a compilation of 10 Tips to successfully deploy Smart Cities:

  1. Find a visionary leader – Be it the Mayor of the City or appoint a Chief Smart City Officer that can champion the whole project and have the authority to gather and lead all the related stakeholders
  2. Move beyond planning – Move beyond Blueprints and Smart City Frameworks. It looks nice on paper – but the real job is on the ground making things happen. That’s where you will see all the obstacles and the reality.
  3. Begin pilots that prove value – Start small but with the big vision in mind. Pilots will be abe to test the business models and the acceptance of solution by both citizens and city authorities.
  4. Understand the costs and benefits – Benchmark before the start of the project so that you can measure the costs and benefits during the entire implementation. Most of the time it will take years before you can see the impact to the society. It’s a long-term vision that requires patience. Along the period, you might see changes in the political governing parties, but we must ensure the end game must remain the same.
  5. Explore available funding options – No longer the only source of funding will come from the government. PPP (public-private-partnership) will be the option. In fact, there is this concept of getting PPPP (which includes People) funding.
  6. Improve internal support – Many smart city solutions can become “white elephants” after a couple of years. Thus, many smart solutions infrastructure require a continuous maintenance and support. Either the city authorities have their people to support this or outsource to a company that will be able to maintain throughout the lifetime of the system.
  7. Explore technology options – For example, no single technology can solve all the connectivity challenges. We might have to manage several techniques in a hybrid manner, but we have to ensure there is always interoperability.
  8. Start mobilizing technology – DNA or Device, Network, and Applications of City differs due to the dynamics of the people living in the cities and how they interact with each other. Understanding what kind of devices or sensors and what types of applications are critical for us to get the right data with proper analytics. And don’t forget – all IT infrastructure must be in place, and thus digital transformation is required in the organizations particularly in the backend systems.
  9. Learn from peers – many other cities around the world have successfully carried out pilots and commercial implementations. However, not all the steps they have taken can be replicated locally. Most important things are to learn what makes them fail so that you will not repeat the same mistake.
  10. Find the right partners – Bigger solutions providers don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, the smaller companies are the one that has a simple and cost-effective solution. A Smart City project creates a good ecosystem to grow local indigenous companies. Rather than focusing on importing foreign products, the government should encourage local companies to participate in the project or pilots. This will spur the country’s economic growth and create more jobs. Check out – Smart City Challenge by U.S. Department of Transportation and Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. — aims to catalyze cities across the country to demonstrate “what’s possible” through scalable solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create innovative and practical climate change solutions.

What’s the secret of successfully deploying a Smart City?

Do you have any further tips to share?


Author: Dr Mazlan Abbas, CEO of REDtone IOT. An IOT Evangelist, Keynote Speaker and IOT Thought Leader.


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