Cities are competing globally, regionally, and locally for private investment and a population with a balanced mix of ages and skills. And, by 2050, they will host 70 percent of the global population. City leaders, who want to sharpen their cities’ competitive edge, face the dilemma between driving growth and creating a livable urban environment that attracts and retains citizens and businesses.
Municipal leaders and their ecosystem of stakeholders, including utilities, transport and logistic operators, hospitals and universities, global high-tech and local startups, increasingly rely on digital technologies to make their cities more intelligent in the delivery of sustainable energy, integrated mobility, a vibrant circular economy, and modern education and healthcare services.
Leading intelligent cities are doing three things. They are re-imagining their service delivery. They are capturing the value of data that they recognize as a strategic asset. They are using data insights to automate business processes.
By re-imagining their services delivery processes, intelligent cities engage with citizens in a more personalized, convenient and inclusive manner. The Auckland city council emerged from combining eight previously separate local councils. This event sparked re-imagining how citizen services are designed and delivered. The council created an omnichannel citizen engagement strategy to digitize 200-plus citizen services, starting with property taxes. The council looked at the services from a citizen’s perspective and found information siloes rather than a seamless citizen experience. It integrated information across lines of service to personalize citizen experience, increase responsiveness and improve revenue collection.
By treating data as a strategic asset, leads the intelligent city to innovative practices to drive sustainable economic growth and livability. A North American city is investing in an open data platform and analytics to collaborate with healthcare providers and non-profit organizations to tackle homelessness. This will reduce the economic and social impact of homelessness, by identifying people at risk early on.
By embedding data insights into their business processes, cities can respond to emergencies in real-time and prevent service disruptions or breakdowns resulting from failures of their urban infrastructure. Antibes, a city in France, attracts 170,000 tourists each summer to its beaches. The city has installed over 2,000 IoT sensors into its water pipelines to digitize the city’s infrastructure. These sensors monitor the water quality and flow to predict when and where maintenance is needed in an aging infrastructure. The intelligent IoT technology can also detect intrusions in real-time, allowing the city to identify attempts to tamper with the water supply and harm citizens and tourists.
Creating a Better Life in a Livable City
Cities of the future will solve the dilemma between growth and livability by becoming more intelligent. Creative city leaders have already started their journey. They design an innovation strategy that addresses what makes a difference for their citizens: transparent governance, integrated mobility, clean and sustainable urban infrastructure, vibrant economy, and healthy and safe communities. They implement governance models to engage with the key ecosystem stakeholders, because achieving those outcomes are the result of engaging with business and citizens – not a standalone activity of the municipal governments. On their journey to become intelligent cities, they embrace a technology roadmap that goes beyond siloed applications using fragmented data. Cities need flexible processes with integration between front ends and backend systems to drive agile service innovation, a deep stack of capabilities that can ingest, orchestrate, and analyze data from multiple sources, and the ability to use data insights to automate processes.
The global, regional, and local competition for citizens and business is creating a digital arms race to shape an attractive and sustainable urban environment with convenient and efficient services, ultimately making the world run better and improve people’s lives.
Peter Maier is Co-President, SAP Industries. Massimiliano Claps, Global Future Cities Team Lead, SAP, contributed to this piece.