Smart City: Learnings from the field
That this information is accessible to citizens, residents and businesses operating in the city, suggests that ingrained in the DNA of a smart city is a digital strategy that weaves itself throughout the very fabric of the locality.
F.E. Edwin Diender (photo right), Vice President, Government & Public Utilities Sector, Huawei says “Within the digital agenda of a government are initiatives around moving the country up the value chain in terms of employability, making the country cleaner, more efficient, be more aware of what resources are available and how these are being use.”
At the core of many small city initiatives is information – something governments have amassed without coordinated thought.
“To draw insight about how a city operates is not easy to attain because the information comes from different organizations, teams within the government that all use different systems,” explained Diender.
A platform not a box
Unfortunately, many mistakenly see smart city developments as akin to the purchase of a products. To this Diender clarifies that “a smart city is not a box that be bought with a purchase order. He clarified that a smart city is not a box.
“A smart city is a platform that connects people with ideas, people with insight, people with a view of the future, with rules and legislations in mind, people with legal background, and that is why it is a platform,” he explained.
At the 6th Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, many exhibitors were showcasing how advances in technology can enable improvements in city administration including public safety, sanitation, education and healthcare.
Diender reiterated, however, that smart city projects do not necessarily mean throwing away existing infrastructure, including information technology.
Early applications and lesson learned
One of the earliest applications of smart city is around enhancing public safety. Diender said that most governments already have existing infrastructure such as surveillance equipment installed at critical junctures in the city. Also, in place are communication infrastructures that different departments, such as police, fire department, military and emergency services, are using.
All that is needed is middle layer technology that will combine the various technologies together and present in a logical manner that can then be sent to the appropriate department and empower personnel to view the information from existing devices such as smart phones.
“The technology doesn’t matter. What matters is that the person is able to work with the right information, and respond accordingly in real-time,” he added.
Driving the agenda forward
“In our discussions with different governments, as well as private sector organizations involved in smart city initiatives, around the world, always we find there is good initiative to support the digital agenda in any given government,” concluded Diender.
Within the digital agenda of a government is a smart city initiative aimed at achieving smarter nation five or ten years from now – the horizon many governments are looking as part of their digital strategy.
What Diender reiterated is that smart cities can, and should start small – pilot, test and prove the ideas through proof of concept. Once proved, move on to the next application.
“A smart city project is a program. If smart city is a platform that drives initiatives, then the initiatives that need to be driven are called programs. Smart city is a program next to or in front of or in parallel with an e-government services program, a program for smart lighting, a program for waste management, a program for energy, gas or electricity, a program for education or healthcare. It’s like taking a journey together towards certain goals, and by doing so you are passing certain milestones,” he clarified.