Planning and co-operation critical to success of smart city programmes

Smart city technology and data analytics are widely expected to deliver greater efficiency across municipal functions. In a new survey, more than 90% of government and municipal respondents said they view smart city initiatives as transformational, with the potential for long-term positive impacts.

But the 2016 Smart City/Smart Utility report from engineering consultancy Black & Veatch also revealed that many cities are reluctant to start smart city planning, citing barriers such as limited resources and questions about how to roadmap and implement plans. What’s more, over half of respondents said their organisation does not really understand the smart city concept.

Compared with a year ago, fewer respondents believe smart cities will become a widespread reality in the next one to five years, Black & Veatch found. Nearly 60% of respondents see the widespread adoption of smart city models as being six to 15 years away.

“This is likely because as more municipalities move beyond the hype to build master plans and consult with stakeholders, they realise the need for more infrastructure, resources and funding than they originally contemplated,” the report said.

On the positive side, however, the stronger focus on planning indicates that smart city programmes are starting to be viewed from a more holistic perspective, with larger, more integrated plans that are more complex than initial pilot projects.

Around the world, municipalities and utilities are taking different approaches to smart city programmes but the goal is the same: efficiency of power, water and communication.

“Getting to ‘smart’ is often an evolution, not a revolution,” commented Marty Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecom business. “Civic objectives of sustainable and reliable energy, water and communications provide the mandate for smarter systems. Stakeholders at the utility, municipal, industrial and consumer levels will need to work together to ensure cities move forward with their objectives.”

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