Cities should share their ‘smart city’ experiences, says report

A US report has called for cities to release more information about their smart city projects in order to share results, insights and best practices.

“Because change in a city is costly (in many ways) and can be especially challenging for early adopters, it is important that the results of urban experimentation be shared, helping to foster less expensive and more easily replicable solutions” the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) said.

Its report, Technology and the Future of Cities, sets out why now is a good time to promote technologies for cities: more (and more diverse) people are living in cities; people are increasingly open to different ways of using space, living, working and travelling across town; physical infrastructures for transportation, energy and water are ageing; and a wide range of innovations are in reach that can yield better infrastructures and help in the design and operation of city services.

But seizing the multi-trillion-dollar worldwide opportunity presented by urban innovation will require a concerted effort to develop and apply new technologies that enhance the way cities work for the people who live there.

To support collaboration between US cities and all relevant stakeholders, PCAST called for the creation of a new platform that could foster the development of standard, customisable models (for studying alternatives) and applications. This “City Web” would help cities build on each other’s work and also open these solutions to smaller cities that lack the budget for significant technology capacity, the authors said.

The report noted that such sharing is already happening in “isolated pockets” focused on specific kinds of information or recipients of certain kinds of funding. A more comprehensive City Web, with broader interconnection, could inform and impel urban innovation, PCAST suggested. It also called for a systematic approach to developing open-data resources for cities.

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