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4 steps to leap ahead of other cities in 2017

This information provided by Smart Cities Council North America.

When developing and executing your smart cities plans, are you paying attention to interoperability? Data security? Those have always been best practices, but this year, the consequences for failing to follow them could grow more severe.

Council Associate Partner IDC is out with its annual smart cities predictions and there are several that are noteworthy. For starters, it predicts some major city will fall victim to a serious cyberattack this year. If you have been relying on luck to keep your data secure, consider that a wake-up call.

Here’s another prediction: 75% of cities worldwide will fail this year to get full benefit from their smart cities projects due to a number of factors, including bad project and change management. Below, we’ve summarized the top predictions from IDC and offer tips on how to ensure your city is in the thriving 25%. — Kevin Ebi

1. Take cybersecurity seriously
This will be the year that a serious data security breach will hit a mid-size to large city, according to the IDC. It predicts the breach will be serious enough to visibly affect the city’s operations for at least a day.

Cities, by and large, have been ignoring the threats. For instance, when San Francisco and other cities were warned their traffic control systems were easy targets for hackers, they did nothing for more than a year. City systems are attractive targets and sooner — rather than later — there will be serious consequences for inaction.

2. Insist on interoperability
A smart city is one where all of the systems work together to make the city more livable, workable and sustainable. That work is exponentially more difficult if the individual systems rely on proprietary methods to communicate.

IDC finds that a growing number of cities understand this. It predicts that by next year, cities will spend twice as much with technology partners who are committed to open application infrastructure and data than partners who are not. Given that, it may make proprietary systems an even riskier investment as the overall market moves toward open solutions.

3. Embrace technology to ease traffic
Most cities already have a traffic problem. And it’s a problem that’s only going to get worse as more people move to cities. Within IDC’s predictions, there are some steps you should consider taking today.

First, it predicts that by 2019, nearly one-third of commuters will use some type of digital assistant to help plan their trips. That should help ease congestion as people get customized advice to get to work quickly, but to work, they need data. If you aren’t collecting — and sharing in a useful format — your traffic and transit data, you could miss out.

Second, you’ve got to provide commuters to get out of their cars. This year, 20% of cities will help nudge commuters toward transit by embracing mobile payments, apps and other tools that make transit much more attractive.

4. Use street lights for more than illumination
Cities are making the switch to energy-efficient smart LED street lights. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2019, 180 million lights will be converted.

But the light stands are valuable real estate that can be used for so much more. Wi-Fi hotspots. Environmental sensors. The possibilities go on and on.

One way to maximize your investment is to add those new capabilities at the same time you’re retrofitting the light fixture itself. Our free ebook, Smart Street Lighting 101, provides suggestions and helps you develop a plan for action.