The development process of a Smart City: an issue that needs attention

A Smart City is not a matter of technology or a technical affair. This truth now seems to be shared unanimously in publications although it does not seem gained in practice.

This difference suggests that the development of Smart Cities today responds to very strong if not legitimate issues : economic, ideological or short-term policies. In many cities, you have to be in the wind, innovative, future-oriented.

Some examples (Amsterdam, Stockholm, London) however let us assess the importance of various ingredients in the successful deployment of Smart Cities.

Among them, the process in place to initiate and maintain over time the dynamic development of the Smart City, is a fundamental ingredient.

A city may have defined its vision and policy guidelines, for example, for transport, waste management, mobility and culture. This invisible work is a necessary prerequisite, but surely not sufficient for the transformation of the city resulting from this vision.

The necessary deployment process involves the implementation of actions and permanent structures for:

– Putting people at the heart of the deployment of the Smart City

The great difficulty of this goal does not lie in the design and choice of the actions to be implemented but within the margin of action and initiative given (back) to citizens.

Giving them back a margin of initiative means that others must give it up. This also means making people actually able to more initiatives: for this, a lot of education is needed.

It seems to me important to avoid unfair processes: citizens can share their experiences of life and the associated choices, participate in the implementation of solutions but can not replace the experts in technical choices. Do not make them think they have the possibility, nor invite them.

– Mobilise all resources

This mobilization is understood at two levels: involve the “quantity”, necessary to feed a real Smart City’s dynamics and involve the quality, to gather the best experts to create the best urban space.

It is based on the motivation of the different actors to participate: visualizing the target to be reached contributes as much as the recognition and reward (not just economic) of all participants, initiatives and successes.

– Building a sharing economy, including data

This sharing economy is in line with the present sociological trends; it does not seem to be just a fashion. It meets two needs emerging strongly in urban areas.

The first is a need for economic optimization. Cities no longer have the resources to duplicate their infrastructure, for example, for communication, data management or data acquisition. The infrastructure must be shared.

The second is a sociological need: sharing economy participates in the (re) creation of links between the inhabitants.

Through the process of deploying the Smart City, urban authorities must find ways to redistribute income in favour of these shares.

– Stimulating innovation and the emergence of new technologies

Innovation is a key point and an undeniable success factor. The notion of innovation induces a sense of value creation but also demands to face the inherent risks.

If value creation is generally desired, the risks associated with innovation are rarely accepted. Manufacturers such as cities implicitly seek innovation without risk, ie a lack of innovation.

A town, that declares itself “innovative”, must actually take risks. The failure, as an inseparable risk of innovation, and not as the result of weakness or laxity, must be borne by all. According to the local culture, more or less teaching is needed between the city councillors and the residents.

– Ensure the values

Finally, each Smart City is different because each Smart City has its roots and its truths in the local culture and values. If some digitalized solutions can be deployed successfully in most cities, how they are deployed, presented, integrated into the overall process of the Smart City, is unique.

If elected city leaders and urban planners do not master the technology, they should not however rely entirely on third parties to manage their Smart City project, as they are still the main guarantors of the culture and local values.

This process requires a lot of courage to local authorities and citizens. This courage is necessary, throughout this process, to keep an unbreakable link between the meaning and actions, between authorities and citizens, between the individual and his duties. This process reminds us how important is for everyone to fully assume its responsibilities (citizen or elected leaders) and not to dissociate themselves from failures.

The success of Smart City through this process aims to (re) establish fairness and justice.

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