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The role of Smart Cities in the evolution of cities

In a previous post on Smart Cities (Why do we need Smart Cities?), it was already shown that creating a Smart City is a very complex task.  It requires not only the involvement of many players but also their long-term commitment.

Furthermore, its success will depend on its proposed value, which has to demonstrate its usefulness for citizens and businesses.  At the same time, it has to be viable and sustainable from the point of view of a business model.

In this respect, while most of the services provided within the context of a Smart City will be of a public nature, the management model will be considered from public participation to public-private co-operation.

Owing to the Smart City platform, the provision of the public service itself is disconnected from the way in which the service is provided.  So the chances of meeting the needs of society increase.

Incorporating the Smart City philosophy in many of the services that are already being provided in the public sphere can mean continuing the current model, which involves payment by the Administration, i.e. the exclusively public model, although improved through the efficiency achieved by incorporating new technologies.

However, on the other hand, it may also involve a public-private partnership where the models could range from revenue sharing, such as the case of payment of road tolls or parking management in cities, the monetization of Administration data so that other players may build services on this.

In short, a Smart City is designed to support the development of cities, both in terms of improvements to their current problems as well as in identifying and managing their future problems.  Below is a summary of these ideas:

  • Smart City as a support to the evolution of cities

 

- Better management of nowadays problems of cities: offering services for improving traffic, urban mobility, public service delivery, information management, energy efficiency, space management, resource management and, ultimately, sustainability. Increasing efficiency and providing control mechanisms.

• Better management of future problems of cities: advancing services that reduce the impact of population growth, pollution and resource shortages as well as the ageing of the population and the evolution of the profiles of citizens (most educated, healthiest, most concerned about their environment).  It helps to anticipate any future problems owing to the analysis tools.

•Better definition of the scope of the city: helping the city to configure itself through new services and infrastructures according to their nature as a tourist destination, a manufacturing center, a trading and marketing hub or, a business hub, etc. It offers support to communities and user groups.

• Bringing innovation and contribute to the economic growth strategy of cities: being a platform for innovation so that third parties may offer value-added services and therefore a way to create jobs.  It provides the ability to evolve, increasing productivity and helping to increase GDP. The city’s information is democratized and enables marketing experts as well as product developers to focus their strategy, both in marketing campaigns as well as in developing products and services.  Offering the city as a platform allows citizens to become involved in solving problems, whether it has to do with interacting with the Administration itself or even with each other.

•Promoting the use of technology: encouraging the use of new technologies by citizens, businesses and the Public Administration itself.  Smart City applications invite people to interact with the city, since these applications make it more efficient, interactive, attractive, adaptive and flexible.

• Ensuring sustainable growth by balancing the supply and demand relationship and by providing a great place in which to live and work: helping to bridge the gap between what citizens want from their Public Administration and what the latter is able to provide them due to budgetary constraints and the complicated financial situation of the municipalities.  It supports expense management and in general lowers management costs.  It helps to improve the well-being and quality of life of citizens.

At present, there are numerous examples of Smart Cities throughout the world.  The first phases of implementation of these projects are geared towards solving real problems in the city and equipping their infrastructures with intelligence.  Without a doubt, it has to do with a reality under construction.  But what is certain is that the Smart City is set to become a fundamental tool for the development of public policy in the coming years.

This post is a summary of the reports entitled:  “Smart Cities: a first step towards the Internet of things“ and  “The Information Society in Spain” produced by Fundación Telefónica.

The complete report is also available in pdf version and for iPad.

 

 

Ruth Gamero, Senior Strategist at Telefónica I+D – Global CTO Unit @ruthgamero

 

Image|MadeinZaragoza

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