Nokia recently announced the availability of ‘The Smart City Playbook’, a strategy report that documents best practices for smart cities. The playbook provides concrete guidance to city leaders on successful strategies used by other municipalities to make their cities smarter, safer and more sustainable. Commissioned by Nokia and developed by Machina Research, a leading provider of strategic market intelligence on the Internet of Things (IoT), the playbook was developed through primary research into the strategies and progress of 22 cities around the world including Cape Town, Dubai and Jeddah.
The study uncovered significant diversity in the smart city strategies of different cities, but identified three distinct ‘routes’ that cities are taking to make themselves smarter. The ‘anchor’ route involves a city deploying a single application to address a pressing problem such as traffic congestion, and then adding other applications over time. The ‘platform’ route involves building the underlying infrastructure needed to support a wide variety of smart applications and services. ‘Beta Cities’, by contrast, try out multiple applications as pilots to see how they perform before making long-term deployment decisions.
While the study found significant differences between cities, even amongst those cities following the same route, it also concluded that there are several particular practices used by successful smart cities that would appear to be of universal benefit, including:
- Successful cities have established open and transparent rules for the use of data (on which all smart cities are dependent) by government departments and third parties, whether shared freely or monetized to cover data management costs.
- Many cities that are advanced in their smart city journeys have committed to making both information and communications technology (ICT) and IoT infrastructure accessible to users both inside and outside of government, and have avoided the creation of ‘silos’ between government departments.
- Governments (and their third-party partners) that have worked to actively engage residents in smart city initiatives have been particularly effective, most notably those where the benefits are highly visible such as smart lighting and smart parking.
- Smart city infrastructure needs to be scalable so it can grow and evolve to meet future needs, and secure to provide certainty that both government and private data are protected.
- Cities that select technology partners that can provide the innovation capacity, ability to invest and real-world experience, along with technology platforms that are open to avoid vendor lock-in, will be at an advantage.
The study also offers myriad, real-world examples of how various cities are managing challenges including those identified above.
Key Findings from Cape Town:
Cape Town: The city is very early on in its smart city programmes. Nonetheless, two key lessons may be identified.
Locality: Cape Town is adopting an approach suitable to its local context. Rather than pursuing grand projects that its citizens cannot benefit from, it is tailoring its efforts to what it perceives are their needs.
Training: The city has made strong efforts in investing in the less glamorous, but necessary work of providing basic training to ensure that people in the city are equipped to make use of digital services as they are introduced.
It is expected that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban centres by 2050, making it critical for governments and other stakeholders to put strategies in place to more effectively meet the needs of their growing populations. Intelligent ICT and IoT platforms have essential roles to play in the evolution of smart cities. The study concluded that many cities are already leveraging these technologies to optimize services and infrastructure, make better-informed decisions, boost economic development, encourage social interactions and make their communities safer and eco-friendly while improving the delivery of a range of public services.
Joachim Wuilmet, head of customer marketing and communications at Nokia, said: “The process of making a city smart is extremely complex, and there are so many different strategies being put forward in the market that choosing the right path for your city can be an enormous challenge. Our goal in commissioning this report by Machina Research was to cut through the clutter and identify strategies that are clearly working for cities. As a global leader in the technologies that connect people and things, Nokia clearly has a great interest in helping bring clarity to the market, and to identify important focus areas. We look forward to helping cities develop the shared, secure and scalable networks and platforms needed to enable the human possibilities of smart, safe and sustainable cities.”
Jeremy Green, Principal Analyst at Machina Research and author of the Smart City Playbook, said: “No one said becoming a smart city would be easy. There are lots of choices to be made. The technology and the business models are evolving rapidly, so there are many degrees of uncertainty. Standards are emerging but are by no means finalised. So there is no ‘royal road’ to smartness. But there is a right way to travel – with your eyes open, with realistic expectations, and with a willingness to learn from others. That includes other cities that might face the same problems as you, even if in a different context. It includes the suppliers, who may have learned from their experiences elsewhere, including in other verticals. It includes start-ups, who can be great innovators; and most of all, it includes the city’s own inhabitants, who are your real partners for the journey.”