Smart City: Delivering a solution to our future

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To give a definition of the ‘Smart City concept’ we need to take into account looking at the city as a customer. In a few words, the objective is to obtain a synergy between a selected number of suppliers from different fields of business in order to offer the customer – in this explanation, the city – a multiple services’ offer to maximize its operations and aim at delivering the citizen an increase of its way of living.

The city governement plays a crucial role. This authority needs to succeed in the creation of an open group with a multi-supplier scheme promoting collaborations between different areas of competence in order to be able to tailor the global offer to the DNA of the city.

Demographics tells us that by 2025, the world urban population will reach 4 billion people and will represent 60% of the total population. This implies that more than the half of our population will live in urban areas. Therefore Smart Cities appear more as a matter of urgency even more than as a business opportunity. In our opinion it is both a business opportunity and an emergency to our future.

The Smart city market is a business opportunity evaluated to more than €1.3 trillion by 2025. This represents colossal business and investment opportunities for companies and corporations.

Understanding this facts and identifying the problems that we are facing nowadays helps us move towards a city that is managed by itself, maximizing its services and becoming the city itself the answer to its problems.

We see different areas of improvement regarding Smart Cities and some have a major impact on its success. We can identify the following: ICT, Energy, Infrastructure, Public administration, Security, Healthcare, Transportation and Logistic. We would say then that the main issue is the cooperation between all different suppliers and some questions follow:

Who will be the main player?

What kind of business model should be applied to succeed: BOO, BOT, BOM or ODM?

Who will be the referent of the overall project?

How can we face the convergence of competition that will be created by the convergence of technology?

All these complications lead us to consider the concept as described first: looking to the city as a customer. This allows us to elaborate a global strategy positioning ourselves by the side of the city and not by the side of the supplier as in our modern society. Today we still consider delivering services to answer a request but we don’t consider anticipating the need and giving a service instead of a solution.

The Smart City player needs to position itself as a strategic partner to be able to anticipate a need and deliver a solution. We can identify 4 different roles that a Smart City player can take:

1- The Smart city integrators: They are project integrators that bring together various sectors of the smart city through pre-packaged platforms thereby providing a unified , holistic and end-to-end integration of multiple sectors Example: IBM, Oracle, Accenture.

2- The Smart city network providers: They offer collaborative networks, data analytics and enterprise working solutions that connect people, assets, systems and products by leveraging on their networking and M2M capabilities. Example: Cisco, Verizon, Ericsson, AT&T.

3- The Smart city product vendors: They provide “hard assets” like smart meters and distribution devices (e.g., automated switches, controllers for capacitor banks and voltage regulators) that operate as the main nodes of connectivity. Example: Eaton, Honeywell, ABB, Schneider Electric, Siemens.

4- The Smart city managed service providers: They offer round-the-clock monitoring, complete management, compliance monitoring, and on-site consulting. These services are provided either in-house, co-managed, or are completely outsourced (third party providers) Example: IBM, Serco, SAIC, Infosys.

The recommendations at this point are several but the priorities should be:

  • to catalyze the smart city consortium creating public-private consortiums to offer integrated smart city services; –
  • to share services and big data analytics through cloud-based services on Smart City management and analytics-based services which local authorities and other public sector agencies can access on a shared basis;
  • to become a strategic partner and choose your role exploring new business models where firms could participate in the governance of cities, (like managed services) and become a supplementary part to the government.

Basically the aim of this article is to put in relief that we are standardized today and we are used to answer a question when someone is asking us but with the huge developement of our civilization, capacities, technologies we need to change our way of thinking.