Igniting smart city momentum: 8 low-cost, high-impact wins


Advice for public officials just beginning to plot their smart city strategy? Think big, but start small. Early success with a relatively low-cost, high-impact starter project can rally support from citizens, the business community and other key stakeholders. That support will be critical when you're ready to promote a more ambitious smart city agenda.

The Smart Cities Council serves as an urban advisor and market accelerator, providing guidance and know-how, working to stimulate the transformation of today´s cities into environments that embody the Council´s three core values: Livability, Workability and Sustainability, with high-quality living and high-quality jobs.

The Smart Cities Council provides policy frameworks, case studies, visibility campaigns and regional networking, among other tools to boost urban efficiency.

In the Council's Smart Cities Readiness Guide, developed with subject matter experts from industry, academia and professional organizations around the world, we suggest eight "quick wins" that cities might consider to build smart city momentum.

1. Energy efficiency: This one not only generates a quick payback through simple behavior changes, the benefits are felt citywide – residents, business, industry, even public buildings can all realize immediate cost savings through lower utility bills.

2. Digital government services: Cities around the world are using smartphone apps and online portals to deliver government services more efficiently. By doing so they are also improving citizen satisfaction with city hall.

3. Smart street lights: Switching to LED lighting not only saves big on energy costs, but the bulbs' longer lifecycle reduces the number of times crews have to replace them. Add sensors and communications to street lights and the advantages are even greater.

4. Smart transportation: Roadway sensors and data analytics enabled by a citywide communications network can reduce traffic congestion and travel times. In many cities today, wins don't come much bigger than that.

5. Smart grids: Cities can't prevent power outages caused by massively destructive weather events, but advanced technologies can "harden" the electric grid to make it more resilient, reducing the frequency and duration of outages.

6. Smart policing: Equipping officers with mobile devices allows them to spend less time on paperwork and more time on patrol. Add analytics to the equation and police can even predict where crime is going to occur. Both scenarios can result in fewer crimes and heightened public confidence.

7. Smart payments: By phasing out cash and checks and digitalizing disbursements and collections, cities can reap significant cost savings and increase operational efficiency. There are also benefits for the public, for instance those who receive assistance payments but don't have a bank.

8. Smart water: In cities where water shortages have or soon will reach crisis stage and the cost of water is prohibitive, installing smart water networks that can pinpoint water leaks and theft can bring a quick and high-impact payback.

 By Jesse Berst,  the Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition that supports cities with free smart city tools, resources and case studies. This piece was adapted with permission from the Council's Smart Cities Readiness Guide.



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