• smart cities
  • Urban Innovation
  • the Internet of Things

Delivering on the Promise of Smart Cities: From Vision to Outcomes

Eric Woods
Feb 04, 2020

Connected City 4

The ultimate proof of the value of smart city initiatives is the delivery of better outcomes in priority areas such as public safety, transportation, health, social equity, and environmental quality. A new white paper, The Evolution of Smart Cities: Delivering on the Promise, from Navigant Research, a Guidehouse company, looks at the evolution of smart cities as the focus shifts to demonstrating tangible results for all communities. Commissioned by Verizon, the white paper examines the challenges cities face as they evolve their smart city programs and highlights cities that are addressing those issues successfully. It also provides guidance for cities looking to accelerate the adoption of smart city solutions. 

A New Phase for Smart Cities

The white paper draws on examples from the US and around the world, as well as examples from 2019’s webinar on smart city evolution. In this webinar, I discussed some of the key issues facing cities with Bill Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner; Harry LaRosiliere, the mayor of Plano, Texas; and Sean Harrington, vice president of City Solutions at Verizon. There are five areas that illustrate how cities are working to ensure smart city innovations deliver real transformation, and they are highlighted below:

  1. Flexible approaches to project financing and procurement. Innovative business models such as new forms of public-private partnerships, energy savings performance contracts, flexible as a service offerings, and advertising-based funding are being used to help accelerate the adoption of smart city technologies. There is also recognition of the need to understand how to value the diverse quantitative and qualitative benefits derived from transformative smart city solutions and to feed those metrics into underlying investment models. 
  2. Close integration of innovation projects with city strategy and operational needs. Many early smart city pilots were too small in scale and too focused on technology issues to offer a path to future deployment. Leading cities are now aligning pilots with core city challenges and operational needs. Innovation projects focus on larger scale demonstrations, the assessment of benefits and outcomes, citizen engagement and co-creation, and the exploration of potential business models.
  3. New partnerships across a diverse set of key stakeholders, including the private sector, universities, and community organizations. This includes looking at new funding models, new approaches to risk sharing, and a focus on building capacity. Leading cities are also developing new models to involve their communities, emphasizing the co-creation of services and digital inclusion programs that show the local value of better data and smart technologies. Creating a spirit of collaboration among all stakeholders is fundamental to any smart city program.
  4. Platforms that enable collaboration, data sharing, and integration across services and with a wider ecosystem of stakeholders. As solutions are deployed more widely, a more strategic perspective on the role of new urban technologies is required, particularly regarding the expansion of Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions. Growing investments in open data, IoT-based solutions, and data analytics drive interest in integrated city platform development.
  5. Holistic perspectives on city needs and the potential for new technologies to address them. The nascent concept of the city as a service encapsulates thinking about how cities can use platform technologies to offer more flexible and personalized services through in-house delivery, cooperation with a range of delivery partners, and greater citizen and community participation in co-creation of those services.

For further insights on how cities are evolving their smart city strategies, see The Evolution of Smart Cities: Delivering on the Promise, available here.