An Introduction to Smart Cities: Transforming the Way We Live, Work, and Play

Smart cities are the wave of the future.

They’re what happens when city planners talk to AI, when digitalisation moves into the urban arena, and when technology and data science meet architecture.

Smart cities are the template for the city of the future – a sustainable city that meets the needs of all its stakeholders. This includes all workers, managers, parents, children, business owners, students, the government, the environment, and the community.

There are six smart dimensions, and a city must embrace at least one of these (preferably more) to become a smart city.

Dimension #1 – Smart Economy

A smart city must have an economy built upon the back of innovation, entrepreneurship, and strong productivity.

Dimension #2 – Smart Environment

Resource usage and pollution must both be managed in a sustainable manner.

Dimension #3 – Smart People

Smart cities need citizens who are diverse, tolerant, engaged, creative, flexible, and highly qualified.

Dimension #4 – Smart Living

Smart cities must promote life quality, social cohesion, and safety, through services such as cultural facilities, e-health, social services, surveillance systems, and inter-emergency service networks.

Dimension #5 – Smart Governance

Governance and decision-making must be transparent, such as through e-government, social media, and crowdsourcing.

Dimension #6 – Smart Mobility

Smart cities must be accessible, with a sustainable transport system.

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. – Buckminster Fuller, architect and futurist

Smart mobility is ultimately the most profitable of these dimensions, and it’s also the one with the most powerful spaces for innovation today. Smart mobility enables the rest of the dimensions to take shape and interact. We’re now going to explore in more detail how this occurs to demonstrate how smart cities can operate.

The Playmaker: Smart Mobility

Smart mobility will provide huge amounts of value to all its users. Transport authorities can learn to build and manage transport infrastructure, and regulate and monitor land transport, far more effectively. Drivers can drive in safer environments, and in ways that maximise the effectiveness of their journeys. Passengers can travel in safer, less isolated ways. Pedestrians can also enjoy walking through a more pleasant city. Resource owners – people who own transport-related resources, such as vehicles, garages, or carparks and who are willing to rent or share them – can profit hugely from the growth of smart mobility.

Urbanism works when it creates a journey as desirable as the destination. – Paul Goldberger, architectural critic

Smart mobility consists of many different technologies and services which have multiple benefits for users. Smart mobility improves the transport options of citizens by facilitating journeys, reducing commuting time, reducing traffic congestions, and facilitating seamless payments. It also boosts the smart economy by helping citizens generate new sources of income, reduce personal expenses, and facilitate the sharing economy.

Smart mobility services also improve smart governance by improving resolution of traffic conflicts and illegal behaviour detection. They affect environmental management by reducing CO2 emissions, digitising service delivery (reducing paper usage) and using environmentally friendly transport options. Smart mobility also leads to safety and quality of life improvements, isolation reduction, and social value development, therefore improving the dimension of smart living. Finally, using smart mobility helps people to develop digital skills, and as a result improves the dimension of smart people.

There are many building blocks and services that resource owners, such as owners of car parks and garages, can use to improve the value proposition of their offering. This includes a variety of options such as service design, end-to-end ticketing, digital concierge, outdoor and indoor navigation, data diagnostics, digital data platforms, data-as-a-service, device management, and the management of smart spaces.

Engaging with these services through a variety of corporate strategy options such as strategy mapping, business model innovation, ecosystems governance, change management, innovation management, risk assessment, and so on will help resource owners unlock the value that smart mobility can bring to their assets.

Smart cities are a new and developing space with huge potential for value creation and capture. Resource owners have a unique first mover advantage to innovate, particularly with smart mobility technology, which in turn will provide large amounts of value that can reap large amounts revenue in return.