Cities—and this term can actually cover smaller urban areas, and other local administrations—are anxious to provide improved services to their constituents, lower costs, and gain information about any problems in their area of responsibility. Smart City initiatives are currently popular as a way of achieving these goals.
But a city is a complex organization, with many moving parts, interests, departments, and requirements. Technical knowledge and skills don’t tend to be widely distributed. And every city is different in its mix of resources, abilities, and constituencies. Planning a digital transformation is thus vastly more complex than simply choosing a technical solution.
Navigating Digital Transformation
To navigate the digital transformation effectively, a city needs a clear-eyed assessment of its on current situation and capabilities, and then, understanding those strengths and limitations, determine what critical capabilities need to be developed and nurtured in order for a Smart City initiative to succeed. Ignoring its current state of readiness can land a city with an expensive white elephant rather than a useful system.
IDC has created a set of tools that will enable city leaders to:
- Assess their current competencies
- Identify gaps and needed competencies
- Establish achievable goals and develop improvement plans to reach those goals
- Make decisions on which technologies, partnerships, staffing, and investment decisions are crucial to success
IDC’s Technology Spotlight on the Power of the Platform in Smart Cities provides a framework to help cities succeed in implementing Smart City initiatives.
Specific Factors to Consider
IDC measures Smart City maturity in five dimensions:
- Vision, or basic organizational health, including how business cases for projects are made and approved, how budgets and investments are managed, and how unified leadership is.
- Culture, including how transparent city functions are and how community groups are engaged and negotiated with.
- Process, which focuses on how the Smart City initiative itself will be governed, measured, and organizationally supported
- Technology, how far along the city already is with the Internet of Things and other platforms
- Data, including how secure citizen data is, what analytic tools the city already uses, and how data is shared between departments
IDC recognizes five stages of Smart City maturity, from Ad Hoc to Optimized. A city can be highly mature in one dimension and less mature in another. As a result, there are good reasons for a thorough assessment.
Establishing a Firm Foundation
Cities that do successfully implement Smart Cities initiatives can reap the benefits of coordinated planning and resource use, transparent and optimized infrastructure maintenance, informed and engaged citizens, and value-added data.
But the great value of the goals should not blind cities to the difficulties of reaching them. Understanding their own current Smart City maturity and knowing what capabilities need to be developed to ensure success is the first step.