Building for the future of smart cities
The future is here, and slowly but surely, smart cities are on the rise, shifting from a far-off fantasy of innovation to a conceivable requirement for successful municipal operations. The effective smart city will continuously collect data to enable citizens and make beneficial business decisions, such as dynamically-priced parking, or enabling citizens to map out mixmodal transportation on a day-to-day basis; the possibilities are endless.
But what are the keys to building for the future of smart cities? Planning for expanding smart city infrastructure depends on three initiatives: creating open digital systems, planning for big ideas, and encouraging private-public partnerships.
Creating Open Digital Systems
As more city components become connected (e.g. mobile apps for parking or transit, connected meters, digital signage, license plate recognition cameras etc.), city leaders are seeing the opportunity to create more open systems that help them connect their data together and manage their city centrally. Procurement processes mean that many cities are left with a jumble of disparate systems that are often not speaking to each other. As cities look to improve livability and equity among their communities, it will be imperative to leverage a centralized platform to manage it all. Open APIs enable administrators to connect all their city’s infrastructure together, allowing them to uncover data-driven insights and create cities that respond to their citizens’ unique needs.
Leveraging Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to connect all of their mobility systems under a single umbrella makes it possible to execute on the following smart city initiatives:
- Coding the curb
- Upgrading to digital (apps, software, platforms)
- Integrating all mobility modes together
- Managing all rules & regulations centrally and digitizing them
- Real-time data management
Planning for Big Ideas
City leaders shouldn’t underestimate the importance of planning for changes that seem like moonshots today. By investing now in the right technology, cities will have the right systems and infrastructure in place to accommodate future innovations within the world of connected systems during this era of the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, how can cities start preparing today for the introduction of autonomous vehicles in the next 5 years?
The key question for city leaders to consider is: How are you setting up your city now in order to be prepared for the future? For example, when scooters were suddenly dropped into cities without warning, no one was prepared to deal with the consequences, from a technological or infrastructure standpoint. In order to adapt and make room for new mobility modes or technology, cities need to determine how to manage rules and regulations centrally from one system, aggregate all mobility modes under one umbrella and enable real-time management, and digitize systems.
Encouraging Private – Public Partnerships
Private enterprises have the capital, resources, and desire to innovate quickly. The time has come for cities to view the private sector as a potential partner; not a competitor. It’s important for cities to have conversations about how to connect with private enterprises and collaborate on bringing innovation into cities faster while sidestepping overly aggressive disruption and maintaining the safety of citizens.
The key is in a single platform that houses the rules and regulations of the curb exposed to the world through open APIs. New modes of mobility should be able to plug into such a platform with ease, and more seamlessly introduce innovation into cities while respecting rules and regulations. The use of a single, all-encompassing platform will enable centralization of technology, and allow cities to collaborate with private mobility companies to more effectively roll out solutions in their areas.