It's time to make our cities smarter
It is projected that by 2050, 70% of people will be living in cities. There will be at least 27 “mega-cities” of 10 million people, compared to 19 today.
Cities are growing in numbers and population and in their importance as planetary hubs of innovation. Economically, they are central to a globally integrated, and services based society; politically they are wielding greater and greater influence and responsibility. And technologically, cities now have access to tools that can help them gain a better understanding and control of their operations and development.
Despite tremendous growth and positive advancements, harsh realities exist that are forcing city leaders to engage new models for leadership that can help drive sustainable economic growth and prosperous communities.
According to the National League of Cities, a decline in 2011 revenues represents the fifth straight year to year decline since 2007, and projections expect the trend to continue in 2012. We, as citizens of the planet and the cities, need our innovative leaders to see this grim scene as a mandate to change and lead the future in sustainable growth, and not as a mandate to continue the trend of arbitrarily cutting services and personnel and increasing fees.
We want our leaders to use this time, when change is required just to make ends meet, to make the decisions that not only help the city survive, but also help transform the city to drive innovation, increased investment, community engagement, and overall sustainability.
Key questions: Where and how to beginRational’s Jim Amsden recently engaged with the City of New Orleans through the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. A core concept New Orleans is using to address some of their challenges is a process called Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO). Jim goes into depth on planning and budgeting in his blog entry about the smarter cities challenge.
Government by design (whitepaper) is the concept of applying strategic planning for government in a form that provides a comprehensive view of the entirety of the business you are in and the services your agency or organization provides. The government by design (podcast) strategic roadmap provides clear, visual illustrations enabling city managers to balance strategic goals with citizen needs. Because it is delivered to a broad range of stakeholders, leaders can feel confident that the right decisions are made for the right reasons and at the right time with appropriate support and backing.
Planning and design
Planning and design are fundamental stepping stones to optimizing each of the systems and sub systems in a city. City strategy and administration, healthcare, transportation, energy and water, education, public safety, and social services are the core systems comprising cities operations.
A smarter city is one that works better across all systems, one that is optimized in the coordination of service delivery, one that delivers good quality of life for its citizens, one that provides a ripe environment for business success, one that allows people and goods to move freely through transport and communication systems, and one that provides sustainable and efficient access to water and energy. And each of these systems come together to form a system of systems.
Looking at the big picture is important, but equally important is the vision of each of the systems and sub-systems within - all interconnected and dependent on one another. Our vision of smarter infrastructure leverages the ability of people, systems and objects to communicate and interact with each other in entirely new ways – a system of systems. Tackling the challenges to a smarter city and smarter systems is not easy, but it can be done. An incremental approach and the right tools enable cities to make smarter, more transparent funding decisions, to design innovative citizen-centric solutions, to leverage resources across the city system of systems and to deliver citizen solutions faster and more efficiently.
Give us your thoughts by leaving a comment below. How can we make our cities smarter? Share your vision with us.