Nations around the world are seeing the emergence of the smart city as an opportunity to improve the quality of life for city-dwellers, enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of local municipalities, improve use of resources and reduce emission levels.
However, the municipality of the 21st century is anticipated to deliver far more than just efficiency and excellence in services for residents. The new municipal vision is about reaching a deeper engagement with the community, it is about open dialog with residents (and between residents), about creating new models for trading and sharing goods and services (a modern version of the traditional marketplace) and most importantly about making cities livable and equitable.
More than ever, cities are in need of a new municipal vision to help deal with poverty, disintegration, pollution, inequality, congestion and over population.
The urgency of dealing with these issues is only increasing with more than fifty percent of our global population living in cities, a number that is estimated to be growing by one million people moving to cities each week (UNFPA).
While technology is most likely the foundation for managing future cities, it is unlikely to be a silver bullet for change. The hope that technology alone will fix all our city problems and support our rapid urbanization is unrealistic. Technology is a great enabler, it is a tool that can facilitate solutions, and if organized in appropriate business models, correctly customized, integrated and regulated, is likely to be the foundation for change.
When analyzing platforms for technological success, Clayton M. Christensen suggested there are no disruptive technologies, but rather only disruptive innovations that come from “novel combinations of existing off-the-shelf components, applied cleverly to a small, fledgeling value network”.
This highlights the unique opportunity for cities to reinvent themselves using innovative models but also the need for a new platform as an enabler for managing our future cities in a more effective way.