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The City as a platform for Digital Transformation

Barcelona hosts the fifth edition ofSmart City Expo World Congress 2015 (SCEWC 2015) from 17th to 19th November. Telefónica sees the City as a platform for Digital Transformation.

The 21st century is going to be the century of cities. The global process ofurbanization, with more than half of the population now living in cities, and thedigital revolution, leading us to a hyper-connected world and a sharing society, make the smart city concept, at the confluence of the two mega-trends, especially relevant.

Europe, well-positioned in the development of its cities, has now the opportunity to leverage the city as a platform for digital transformation of the economy and the society. Latin America can take advantage of the digital transformation to meet the economic and social challenges ahead. 

New technologies allow the improvement of citizens’ quality of life and a more efficient delivery of services by public administrations, in an environmentally sustainable way, but furthermore, there is an opportunity to go beyond. Cities are meant to become a fundamental tool for the development of public policies and economic growth in the coming years.  

Cities have always managed to adapt to new challenges. Now it is the time to address thecities’ new digital ecosystem, to respond to its citizens’ digital environment. The digital revolution will allow the smart city to be at the heart of a new digital ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship, expanding and transforming citizens’ and organizations’ information. 

The city cannot only be a mean to provide services to citizens. The city must become aplatform for digital services, enabling a flourishing, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial digital ecosystem that will lay foundations for future economic growth.Cities must provide a digital infrastructure, a platform, making possible not only the provision of today services to its citizens, but a step further, allowing any provider or entrepreneur to develop services, supported by the common digital infrastructure of the city. 

The city platform must facilitate synergies, and ensure interoperability with other services and entities such as transportation, energy, health systems; driving innovation from open platforms and open data enabling cities to act as living labs (e.g. Internet of things) andtech hubs 

Europe has the opportunity to repeat the success of the GSM standard, developing asingle digital market of applications and services for cities, attractive to developers and entrepreneurs, via de facto standardization of platforms. To do so, Europe must promote an open city platform, facilitating thus the necessary scale and ecosystems, where solutions arise not only from the city, but also from citizens and entrepreneurs. 

Eventually, there is the opportunity to promote a shared vision and ensure the leadership of our cities by:

  • Fostering Smart Cities as a way to implement Large Scale Pilot (LSPs) and promote IoT take-up and adoption by 1) promoting “leading by example” innovation projects and 2) promoting the aggregation of demand and the use of pre-commercial procurement mechanisms in the public sector.
  • Promoting an infrastructure based on an open horizontal standard platform, to overcome fragmentation and support the development of a competitive supply industry and a balanced ecosystem, allowing the necessary scale (e.g. de facto FIWAREstandard platform, developed as part of FI-PPP -Future Internet Private Partnership Programme- launched by the European Commission in collaboration with the industry)
  • Endorsing open data and its use in a secure and reliable way.
  • Promoting Accelerator programmes to fund innovative start-ups and SMEs bringing to market new Internet of Things products and services for the city and making sure that they can access the necessary technology platforms and open data to develop apps and services.
  • Fostering public-private partnerships, to more effectively manage innovation and take-up actions (e.g. via PPP)
  • Integrating cities initiatives, stimulating scale, developing communities of stakeholders around horizontal platforms, supporting the networking and interaction between them, the sharing of good practices, the development of skills and training activities (e.g. Open Agile Smart Cities (OASC))

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Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Carlos López Blanco / @clopezbl

Director General de Asuntos Públicos y Regulación de Telefónica.