Four weapons to get ready for the battle

Renato de Castro

Renato de Castro follows chasing smart cities’ projects. In 2016 he continues visiting vibrant projects around the world following the new trends and sharing everything with you. New chapter: tools that can be used to fire up your project following some modern management models.

It does not matter if you are planning a new project for a metropolis or a solution for a  village, some tools can be really useful to boost it and to assure an economic sustainability. The first wave of Smart City projects, also known as SC 1.0, was basically focused on technology. Big players were fighting for leadership, in an open competition to be the main protagonist and for world recognition in this field. Time has changed and situation now is different. We are facing a boom in the so-called sharing economy. Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp and other icons of this revolution have changed the main order and for Smart Cities it is not different. As a result, we can do projects now not only faster, but much cheaper than ever before. So the approach to plan and manage a smart city project has also changed. Here, I will try to point out some tools that can be used to fire up your project following some modern management models.


Tool  #1 - Rethinking the Smart City pitch 

Previously, the success of a Smart City project was a matter of “fighting” for budget, non-repayable loans or grants from national government or international organizations, but this game is almost over. Projects were designed to fit to the requirements related to these funds rather than to be economically sustainable. Solutions were ICT oriented instead of citizen centered.Problems are rising due to people migration and concentration in urban areas and smart solutions are being deployed to make people’s life better. So, the word “citizens” should be in the core of the new pitch, followed closely by economic sustainability. 

Successful case: Smartalk is a brazilian startup specialized in developing professional presentations and pitches for startups and governments and storytelling illustrated talks.




Tool #2 - Smart City Concept Design  

For me, one of the most fascinating phase of smart city project development is the masterplan designing. All concepts and applied technologies can be observed in a harmonic combination. Understating what is the best moment for a huge investment in masterplanning is very important. A good solution can be to develop a concept design as the first step of the process. As mentioned before, in the past, smart city projects were very reactive to the possibility of non-repayable loans, but not anymore. How about attracting private funds to sponsor it? Doable? Definitely, but you will need an outstanding, but affordable, marketing material for it. 

Successful case: InsiteOut from Italy has developed a full proposal for Expo Milan Smart City, including a 3D presentation, in only 5 days.


Tool #3 - “Appsation” reconnecting with citizens 

Time has changed but basic concepts not! Our lives got highly digitalized but the need for interaction and communication is still the same. Cities have already done huge investments in digitalizing the operations and procedures, but are they talking to citizens? Good news are that all the infrastructure investment for it is already done. You don't need even to give a smartphone neither to citizens or city hall staff, you just have to call for the platform. Apps can also be used as new source of communications for cities.

Successful case: Altarix from Russia - City Listens is an app that helped the government of Moscow to solve almost 1.000.000 of problems in the last 5 years.


Tool #4 - Attracting and promoting ICT Pilot projects  

Creative and sharing economies are the new black. As I mentioned before, startups oriented to urban solutions are emerging around the world. The developing markets are also offering solutions. Newbies from Russia, China, Brazil and India are astonishing the world with new smart solutions. Here it is the real opportunity for Smart Cities: these companies are striving to go global and prove the effectiveness of their solutions and they need international cases to enhance their portfolio.  It means that you can get good deals in win-win terms with these companies. 

Successful case: Data from Waze's users is helping the Rio de Janeiro operation and command center to manage the traffic in a better way and quickly respond to accidents.


Let's video start!

I have selected some videos that illustrate some original and creative smart solutions I visited around the world:


From Singapore: Solar energy for all 

The use of solar energy reduces a city’s dependence on fossil fuels and makes the air cleaner. Traditionally, consumption of solar energy is easily accessible for home owners with rooftops. However, for many who live in apartments in big cities with no “free roofs” to install the panels, how can one benefit from this renewable source of energy? A start-up called Sun Electric was created to empower cities to produce and consume clean energy. 



From Italy: "Four-paws Citizens” program 

Smart Cities’ projects aim not only to solve urban problems but also to make citizens lives better. Pets are undoubtedly part of our cosmopolitan lifestyle. The US have more than 83 million of registered dogs, producing an amazing quantity of 29 tons of "poops" "per day.  How to balance this situation? Rovolon, a small town in Italy developed a creative Smart solution to mitigate this problem using PPP strategy.


Smart Cities Coffee Chat 2016 

SCCC is an informal meeting to discuss about Smart Cities trends and challenges live-streamed in Facebook. In 2016 we will be organizing several local events for a small gruop of max 30 representatives of private, public, non-profit, academic and citizenry sectors, to be sharing their perspectives.  Next events will be in Milan, Rome, New Delhi, Beijing, Brussels, Budapest, Nairobi, Johannesburg, London, San Francisco, Qingdao, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Riga. If you also want to host a SCCC in your city let us! Our first event was in Kuala Lumpur, check how was it.




Member of the global advisory board of Leading Cities, Boston, and International Advisor for The World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments (WEGO), Seoul. Founder, board member and Senior consultant at Baumann Consultancy Network for Smart Cities projects and internationalization strategies, Italy.


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