Smart cities can only be successful if local government engages with citizens, opening up a dialogue to meet their needs, said Gartner today. Developing IoT programmes without consulting the community is the wrong strategy, according to the analyst company.
Smart cities are no longer just about optimised traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting, or improvements to public works, said analysts, but should instead be about a community-driven approach to deciding local priorities.
Gartner has proposed four strategies to refocus smart city developments on citizens’ needs.
Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research VP at Gartner, said that a top-down focus on technology platforms alone should be set aside in favour of asking citizens what their needs are, and which services could be improved.
In this way, technologies such as AI and machine learning could be put to better use, she said: “Changes in citizen mindsets mean that governments must change their mindsets.
Government CIOs today need to look at creating innovation strategies to attract new industries and develop digital skills. They need to look at changing their spatial planning, road infrastructure, data and service management.
Gartner’s four strategies are designed to help local government CIOs bring this change about. They are:-
First, understand which issues directly impact citizens and apply technology to solving those problems first. This might include aligning the data gathered via AI and machine learning platforms to meet specific citizen or business requirements.
Second, CIOs should be mindful of the digital divide and pay equal attention to the challenges faced by citizens with fewer IT skills.
Virtual assistants powered by natural-language processing could be one way of achieving this, suggested Gartner, creating a more intuitive way for people to communicate with smart services.
Third, create an open data strategy. Gartner said that open data portals could allow businesses, schools, colleges, universities, and citizens access to data that had previously been hidden. This could help them to design better or more efficient services that are focused on proven needs.
And fourth, CIOs are urged to use clear measurements and KPIs to explain the progress of smart city programmes to their stakeholders.
Gartner claimed that by 2020, two-thirds of all smart city strategies will incorporate KPIs to visualise the impact of mobility-focused urban services.
Internet of Business says
For all the talk of smart city programmes, big data, smart street lighting, and more efficient transport systems, it is rare to hear technology commentators talk about community need and what citizens or local businesses actually want. So we commend Gartner for doing exactly that.
If more councils asked residents what could be better, what doesn’t work, and what needs fixing urgently, then more of them might be seen as enablers and allies rather than as remote or inefficient bureaucracies.
Smart city technologies and the IoT, combined with open data sets, could not only connect services better within local communities, but also connect citizens to their elected representatives and the services that work for them.
Plus: Cisco partners with Teradata
In related news, analytics specialist Teradata announced today that it is working with Cisco on a smart cities programme that combines Cisco’s IoT platform, Cisco Kinetic, with Teradata’s analytics technology.