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Smart Cities Tutorial

What You Will Learn

Smart Cities Foundation

Welcome to the Smart Cities Tutorial. This tutorial has been assembled with input from many of the world’s leading smart city practitioners – the members and advisors of the Smart Cities Council. It will help you create a vision for the future of your own city. Equally important, it will help you build an action plan to get to that better future.

The first goal of the Readiness Guide is to give you a “vision” of a smart city, to help you understand how technology will transform the cities of tomorrow.

The second is to help you construct your own roadmap to that future. It suggests the goalOTHER SMART
CITY DEFINITIONSs to which you should aspire, the features and functions you should specify, the best practices that will gain you the maximum benefits for the minimum cost, at reduced risk.

The Readiness Guide is intended for mayors, city managers, city planners and their staff. It helps cities help themselves by providing objective, vendor-neutral information to make confident, educated choices about the technologies that can transform a city.

Cities around the world are already making tremendous progress in achieving economic, environmental and social sustainability, in export-based initiatives and in the creation of 21st-century jobs. All of these are excellent ways to improve city living standards and economies. The concept of smart cities doesn’t compete with these efforts. Instead, smart city technologies can support and enhance work already underway.

In this tutorial, we will define the smart city, explore its benefits and introduce the framework that underlies this Readiness Guide.

What is a smart city? | CNBC Explains

Taking a holistic view of ‘city’

This introductory section defines smart cities and explores the trends that are driving this global phenomenon. It also discusses some of the barriers cities may face and strategies to overcome them.

Before we define the “smart” piece, however, we should first deal with the word “city.” Realworld smart city examples are rarely a city in the strictest term. Many are more than a single city, such as a metropolitan region, a cluster of cities, counties and groups of counties, a collection of nearby towns or a regional coalition. Other examples are less than a fullscale city, such as districts, neighborhoods, townships, villages, campuses and military bases. Indeed, many municipalities are taking a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to modernization. This Guide is designed to address all of these human ecosystems.

Because it is in common use, we will continue to use “city” throughout this Guide. But we use it to mean all relevant examples big and small. Regardless of size, we are taking a comprehensive, holistic view that includes the entirety of human activity in an area, including city governments, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, resources, businesses and people. As you’ll read, smart technologies have matured to the point that cities of all sizes can afford and benefit from their implementation. For example, new cloud computing offerings allow even the smallest city to affordably tap into enormous computing power. So the lessons of this Guide apply regardless of size – and you’ll see real-world examples in the case studies featured throughout.

The definition of a smart city

A smart city uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability. In simplest terms, there are three parts to that job: collecting, communicating and “crunching.” First, a smart city collects information about itself through sensors, other devices and existing systems. Next, it communicates that data
using wired or wireless networks. Third, it “crunches” (analyzes) that data to understand what’s happening now and what’s likely to happen next.

Collecting data

Smart devices are logically located throughout the city to measure and monitor conditions. For instance, smart meters can measure electricity, gas and water usage with great accuracy. Smart traffic sensors can report on road conditions and congestion. Smart GPS gear can pinpoint the exact locations of the city’s buses or the whereabouts of emergency crews. Automated weather stations can report conditions. And the smartphones carried by many city dwellers are also sensors that can–when specifically authorized by their users to do so–collect their position, speed, where they cluster at different times of the day and the environmental conditions around them.

A smart city, then, is one that knows about itself and makes itself more known to its populace. No longer do we have to wonder if a street is congested – the street reports its condition. No longer do we have to wonder if we’re losing water to leaks – the smart water network detects and reports leaks as soon as they occur. No longer do we have to guess the progress of the city’s garbage trucks – the trucks report where they’ve been already and where they are headed next.

Communicating data

Once you’ve collected the data, you need to send it along. Smart cities typically mix and match a variety of wired and wireless communications pathways, from fiber-optic to cellular to cable. The ultimate goal is to have connectivity everywhere, to every person and every device.

Crunching data

After collecting and communicating the data, you analyze it for one of three purposes: 1) presenting, 2) perfecting or 3)predicting. If you’ve read about “analytics” or “Big Data,” then you may already know about the astonishing things that become possible by crunching large amounts of data. Importantly, crunching data turns information into intelligence that helps people and machines to act and make better decisions. This begins a virtuous cycle wherein data is made useful, people make use of that data to improve decisions and behavior, which in turn means more and better data is collected, thereby further improving decisions and behavior.

Presenting information tells us what’s going on right now. In the aerospace and defense industries, they call this “situational awareness.” The software monitors the huge flow of incoming data, then summarizes and visualizes it in a way that makes it easy for human operators to understand. For instance, a smart operations center can monitor all aspects of an emergency situation, including the actions and locations of police, fire, ambulances, traffic, downed power lines, closed streets and much more.

Perfecting operations uses the power of computers to optimize complex systems. For instance, balancing the supply and demand on an electricity network, or synchronizing traffic signals to minimize congestion; or selecting the ideal routes for a delivery fleet to minimize time and fuel costs; or optimizing the energy usage of an entire high-rise to achieve maximum comfort at minimum cost.

Predicting what’s next is perhaps the most exciting part of analytics. Cities such as Singapore already crunch data to predict traffic jams while there is still time to minimize their effects. Cities such as Rio de Janeiro already predict just where flooding will occur from a particular storm, so emergency crews and evacuation teams know just where to go.

Cities can derive benefit by collecting, communicating and crunching information from a single department. But the greatest benefits come when data is connected with multiple departments and third parties. Many cities combine historic traffic data with information about population growth and business expansion to know when and where to add or subtract bus and train routes. Other cities correlate multiple data sources to predict crime the way we predict the weather. Or predict which expensive transformers are about to fail on the power grid and which will still be good for years to come.

As we’ll see in more detail, a smart city is a system of systems water, power, transportation, emergency response, built environment, etc.– with each one affecting all the others. In the last few years, we’ve refined our ability to merge multiple data streams and mine them for amazing insights. It is those insights – presenting, perfecting and predicting – that enhance the livability, workability and sustainability of a smart city.

Powerful forces are converging to make smart cities a growing trend all around the world. It is valuable for city leaders to understand what’s behind this momentum and how it will play out in their region. Chances are some of the pain points described below that will hit close to home.

Growing urbanization

Cities deliver many benefits – greater employment opportunities, greater access to healthcare and education, and greater access to entertainment, culture and the arts. As a result, people are moving to cities at an unprecedented rate. Over 700 million people will be added to urban populations over the next 10 years. The United Nations projects that the world’s cities will need to accommodate an additional 3 billion residents by the middle of the century. A recent UN report suggests that 40,000 new cities will be needed worldwide.

Growing stress

Today’s cities face significant challenges – increasing populations, environmental and regulatory requirements, declining tax bases and budgets and increased costs – at the same time, many are experiencing difficult growing pains ranging from pollution, crowding and sprawl to inadequate housing, high unemployment and rising crime rates.

Inadequate infrastructure

Urbanization is putting significant strain on city infrastructures that were, in most cases, built for populations a fraction of their current size. Much of the developed world has the infrastructure that is near or past its design life, requiring massive upgrades. For instance, in 2013 the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States an overall grade of D+ for its infrastructure. Meanwhile, much of the developing world has missing or inadequate infrastructure, requiring massive build-outs. The 2012 black-out in India that left more than 600 million people without electricity is a prime example; the country has inadequate power generation to meet the ever-increasing demand. The bottom line? McKinsey & Company estimates that cities will need to double their capital investment by 2025, to $20 trillion from today’s $10 trillion per year.

Growing economic competition

The world has seen a rapid rise in competition between cities to secure the investments, jobs, businesses and talent for economic success. Increasingly, both businesses and individuals evaluate a city’s “technology quotient” in deciding where to locate. A real challenge for cities with economies based on the heavy industry is creating job opportunities that appeal to recent university graduates so they will stay and help build the kind of high-quality workforce that new industries, for instance those in technology, demand.

Growing expectations

Citizens are increasingly getting instant, anywhere, anytime, personalized access to information and services via mobile devices and computers. And they increasingly expect that same kind of access to city services. In fact, a May 2013 United Nations survey of over 560,000 citizens from 194 countries revealed their top priorities are a good education, better healthcare and an honest and responsive government. We also know that people want to live in cities that can provide efficient transportation, high-bandwidth communications and healthy job markets.

Growing environmental challenges

Cities house half of the world’s population but use two-thirds of the world’s energy and generate three-fourths of the world’s CO2 emissions. If we are going to mitigate climate change, it will have to happen in cities. Many regions and cities have aggressive climate and environmental goals – goals that cannot be reached without the help of smart technologies.

Rapidly improving technology capabilities

Many of the smart city drivers listed above are negatives – problems that demand solutions.

There are positive drivers as well, especially the rapid progress in technology. The costs of collecting, communicating and crunching data have plunged. What’s more, much of the needed technology is already in place:

  • Over the last decade, many regions have begun to modernize their electric power grids and, to a lesser extent, their water and gas networks. Hundreds of millions of smart meters and smart sensors are now in place, producing data of value to a smart city.
  • With the arrival of smart thermostats and building management systems, there are now millions of buildings with some of the pieces needed to be smart, on the cusp of
    being able to ‘talk’ and ‘listen.’
  • On the health and human services front, we’re seeing better access to healthcare with in-home consultations via computer.
    Meanwhile, most agencies are switching to electronic records and many are using analytics to improve results.
  • Our highways and byways are becoming smarter thanks to intelligent transportation management software, roadway sensors and smart parking apps. Navigation apps and equipment display real-time traffic so users can find – and even be automatically pointed to – less congested alternatives.
  • And we are seeing more electric vehicles on our roads which help reduce pollution.
  • Over the last two decades, we have deployed high-bandwidth networks worldwide that connect one billion computers and four billion cell phones. These networks are already in place in almost all major cities and can be leveraged for smart city applications.
  • An increasing number of cities are starting to benefit from a large network of Near-field Communication (NFC) equipped point of sales with the roll-out of contactless cards technology. It means hundreds of merchants are already capable of accepting mobile payments and wallets for seamless consumer experience and value-added services, but also cashless cities are able to reduce frauds and benefiting from better insights on their citizen purchasing journeys.

Let’s consider that final example in more detail. It’s important to realize that today’s ubiquitous smartphones are becoming both a “delivery platform” and a “sensor network” for smart city applications. The delivery platform is obvious – a smartphone is a great place for a resident to receive alerts and access city services. But today’s smartphones can also be leveraged to collect information when the user agrees to share data. For instance, one launched in 2013 has the following sensors: a GPS locator, a microphone, a gyroscope, a light sensor, a camera, an accelerometer, a barometer, a thermometer, a magnetometer and a hygrometer.

“By the end of the decade, many infrastructure technologies – smart meters, intelligent traffic systems, building energy management – will be deployed across North America and Europe and, increasingly, in the rest of the world,” says Navigant Research analyst Eric Woods. Once in place, that technology provides the basis for a wide range of innovative smart city applications and services.

Rapidly declining technology costs

Even as capabilities are climbing, technology costs are plummeting. Hardware costs are declining at a steady pace. But it is software costs that have plunged the most, thanks to four trends.

The first trend is the advent of inexpensive mobile apps and information services viewable by mobile phones. Those phones are so popular that millions of developers have
turned their attention to building applications, many of which cost only a few dollars.

The second trend is the arrival of social media. Applications such as Facebook and Twitter act as free “platforms” to deliver alerts, updates or even small-scale apps. They also act as “listening posts” that help cities monitor citizen needs and preferences. In fact, companies such as IBM and Microsoft now have the capability to use machine intelligence to monitor social media and derive trends.

The third trend is the maturation of cloud computing. Cloud computing delivers powerful solutions via the Internet. Suppliers save money because they can build one solution and sell it to many different users, gaining tremendous economies of scale. Users save money because they don’t have to buy and maintain giant data centers or hire and train large IT staffs. Only a few years ago, advanced applications were available only to the very biggest agencies and corporations. Today– hanks to cloud computing – they are not out of reach for even the smallest township. And they are available without a giant upfront investment, simply by paying a monthly fee.

The fourth trend is about the data. From an analytics perspective, we can now cost effectively handle the high volume, velocity and variety of data – e.g. Big Data.

And there’s much more to come

The smart city is part of an even larger trend – the “Internet of Things.” Technology provider Cisco estimates there were 200 million devices connected to the Internet in the year 2000. By 2012, that number had increased to 10 billion. There are approximately 200 connectable “things” per person today, or 1.5 trillion things globally, Cisco estimates.

Clearly we are entering a remarkable new phase. Research firm IDC predicted in 2012 that the smart city market would grow by 27% year over year. Meanwhile, Navigant Research said it would hit $20 billion in worldwide sales by 2020. And Cisco in early 2013 predicted the overall Internet of Things market will create an astonishing $14.4 trillion in additional net profit for the world’s industries in the next decade.

The barriers to smart cities

Despite the powerful drivers in favor, the path to smart cities has obstacles along the way. Members of the Smart Cities Council have worked on thousands of smart city projects all over the world. As they’ve collaborated with local governments certain barriers have emerged frequently.

Siloed, piecemeal implementations. Cities often tackle challenges in a piecemeal fashion, due to short-term financial constraints and long-term traditions that divide city functions into separate, “siloed” departments with little interaction. As a result, many projects are built to solve a single problem in a single department, creating “islands of automation” that duplicate expenses while making it difficult to share systems or data.

Building a smart city requires a system-wide view and an integrated approach. The bad news: holistic thinking and collaborative work are hard. The good news: done right, they can save time and enable new services that were not possible in an isolated, siloed model. For instance, a city department can drastically cut the development time for a new application by re-using data and software modules already created by other departments. A municipal water utility can drastically cut the cost of a communications network by using one already built out for an electric utility. And a city can sometimes reduce overall information technology (IT) costs by as much as 25% just by implementing a master IT architecture and technology roadmap. This is not to suggest that cities must finance and implement dozens of investments at one time. In fact, it is entirely fine to begin with just one or two projects. What is critical is that these projects all fall into a larger, integrated plan so that city investments are not redundant.

Most experts agree that technology will not be the gating factor for the smart city transformation. Instead, we will be limited by our human ability to coordinate and collaborate between departmental and technology silos.

Lack of financing

Tax revenues are shrinking in many cities, making infrastructure projects increasingly difficult to finance. In fact, some cities have been forced to implement austerity measures – such as furloughing employees one day a month or cutting back on travel and discretionary expenses. Yet if those cities remain old-fashioned while others modernize, they will suffer even more, since cities must now compete globally. Fortunately, new financial models are emerging. And payment innovations like e-Procurement or electronic benefits can help cities reduce costs and free up money to invest in infrastructure and other improvements. Some of them require little or no upfront capital from the city. Instead, the city “rents” its solution as it goes. And performance contracts and shared revenue models between the city and solution vendors provide cities with attractive financing solutions. What’s more, many smart city solutions have a rapid payback so that they save money over the long run. In many cases, the technology can actually improve the city’s economic return.

Lack of ICT know-how

Although industry has developed highly sophisticated ICT skills, few city governments have had the budget or the vision to push the state of the art. Since smart cities are essentially the injection of ICT into every phase of operations, this lack of ICT skills puts cities at a disadvantage. Fortunately, more and more applications are
offered as a service. That is, they are hosted in the cloud (out on the Internet) where they have access to tremendous computing power, virtually unlimited storage and innovative software. Another plus is that the smart city sector has developed a large cadre of experienced global, regional and local consultants and service providers who are partnering with cities to deploy ICT solutions.

Lack of integrated services

To the extent cities applied ICT in the past, they applied it to their internal, siloed operations. The result has been a grab-bag of aging applications that only city employees can use. Although this was an acceptable practice in the last century, today we can and must allow citizen access and self-service. There is no reason that citizens who want, for instance, to open a restaurant should have to make multiple applications to multiple city departments. In a smart city, a single portal can gather all the data and parcel it out to the appropriate departments. Likewise, residents should have instant access to up-to-the-minute information about their energy and water usage, their taxes and fees, their social services programs and more. And ideas like Open Data not only improve transparency, they enforce a people-first perspective that is critical in smart cities.

Lack of citizen engagement

The smart cities movement is often held back by a lack of clarity about what a smart city is and what it can do for citizens. As a result, many stakeholders
are unaware of the smart city options that have found success already. Often, there is a communications issue. Cities should be wary of being too abstract with their smart city initiatives, recognize that citizens care about services that make their lives better, and adjust their engagement accordingly. Cities
need to recognize when they need citizen and business awareness versus complete ‘buy in.’

Remedying the citizen engagement challenge will require visionary leadership that paints a picture of the benefits technology can bring. In the U.S. in the late 2000s, several electric power utilities learned this lesson the hard way. They
rolled out smart meters without explaining how customers would benefit. They suffered consumer backlash and resistance as a result.

Lack of a smart city visionary. Every parade needs a leader. Sometimes that leadership comes from an elected official–a mayor or council person who acts as the smart city champion. Smart city leadership can also come from elsewhere in the administration–a city manager or a planning director, for instance. Or it can come from outside city hall altogether with involvement from business leaders, civic organizations or public-private partnerships.

The benefits of smart cities

Now let’s look at why it is so worthwhile to overcome those barriers and take advantage of the technology advances described earlier that allow you to re-imagine your city. With the right planning and investment, government leaders can make our cities more livable, more workable and more sustainable – both economically and environmentally. Let’s examine those overall goals, which are the very purpose of becoming smart.

Enhanced livability means a better quality of life for city residents. In the smart city, people have access to a comfortable, clean, engaged, healthy and safe lifestyle. Some of the most highly valued aspects include inexpensive energy, convenient mass transit, good schools, faster emergency responses, clean water and air, low crime and access to diverse entertainment and cultural options.

Enhanced workability means accelerated economic development. Put another way, it means more jobs and better jobs and increased ocal GDP. In the smart city, people have access to the foundations of prosperity – the fundamental infrastructure services that let them compete in the world economy. Those services include broadband connectivity; clean, reliable, inexpensive energy; educational opportunities; affordable housing and commercial space; and efficient transportation.

Enhanced sustainability means giving people access to the resources they need without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Merriam-Webster
defines sustainability as a method of using a resource so that it is not depleted or permanently damaged. When the Council uses the term, it refers not only to the environment, but also to economic realities. Smart cities enable the efficient use of natural, human and economic resources and promote cost saving in times of austerity, and they are careful stewards of taxpayer dollars. It isn’t about investing huge sums of money into new infrastructure, it’s about making infrastructure do more and last longer for less.

Life is better in a smart city – better for people and better for businesses. We will discuss dozens of specific benefits that accrue to cities that embrace the smart city vision. But let’s take a moment to summarize them by imagining a day in the life of a citizen in our smart city.


The role of the Readiness Guide is to help you transition to a smart city, at your own pace and on your own terms. This tutorial explains the Smart Cities Framework that supports that mission. We think you will find it a useful mechanism to understand the totality of a smart city and how the pieces work together.

This tutorial gives you what you need to construct a “target list” or “wish list” for your city. When you are ready to turn that list into an actual plan.

Smart city responsibilities

Cities have essential functions and services that must be available every day. Homes must have water, businesses must have power, waste must be collected, children must be educated and so on. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these vertical city functions as responsibilities. Although not all of them fall under a city’s direct control, all of them are essential to everyday life and commerce. The eight-city responsibilities are:

Built environment

In the Readiness Guide, built environment refers to all of a city’s buildings, parks and public spaces. Certain components of the built environment – including streets and utility infrastructure – are not emphasized here because they are treated in other responsibilities (transportation and energy).


The infrastructure to produce and deliver energy, primarily electricity and gas.


This term can have several different meanings. The Readiness Guide uses the telecommunications responsibility to refer to communications for people and businesses. We use connectivity to refer to communications for devices.


A city’s roads, streets, bike paths, trail systems, vehicles, railways, subways, buses, bicycles, streetcars, ferries, air and maritime ports – any and every system that relates to citizen mobility.

Health and human services

The essential human services for the provision of health care, education and social services.

Water and wastewater

The infrastructure responsible for water – from collection to distribution, to use and finally reuse and recycling. Pipes, distribution centers, catchment areas, treatment facilities, pump stations, plants and even the water meters at private homes are all essential components of this responsibility. Water purity and cleanliness are also addressed here.

Public safety

The infrastructure, agencies and personnel to keep citizens safe. Examples include police and fire departments, emergency and disaster prevention and management agencies, courts and corrections facilities.


Payments link a payer and a payee and refer to all the key contributors involved: merchants, consumers, businesses, banks, payment instruments providers, payment schemes. Payments sit at the heart of the economic activity in cities and form the core component of every economic flow including salaries, consumer spending, business procurement and taxes. They have become so systematic that they often go unnoticed.

Smart city enablers

Smart cities can radically improve all of the responsibilities through the power of ICT (information and communications technology). ICT can make buildings more efficient, water more affordable, transportation quicker and neighborhoods are safer. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these transformative technologies and capabilities as enablers.

They put the “smart” in smart cities. The seven technology enablers are listed below.

Instrumentation and control

Instrumentation and control is how a smart city monitors and controls conditions. Instrumentation provides the eyes and ears of a smart city. Examples include smart meters for electricity, water and gas; air quality sensors; closed-circuit TV and video monitors and roadway sensors. Control systems provide remote management capabilities. Examples include switches, breakers and other devices that let operators control from afar.


Connectivity is how the smart city’s devices communicate with each other and with the control center. Connectivity ensures that data gets from where it is collected to where it is
analyzed and used. Examples include citywide WiFi networks, RF mesh networks and cellular networks. (Note: When a cellular network communicates with devices, the Readiness Guide refers to it as connectivity. When it lets people communicate, the Guide uses the term telecommunications. These are arbitrary distinctions used only in the Guide to make it easier to distinguish between the two sides of communications – devices and people.)


Interoperability ensures that products and services from disparate providers can exchange information and work together seamlessly. Interoperability has many benefits. For one, it prevents the city from being “locked in” to just one proprietary supplier. For another, it gives the city more choice, since it can buy from any company that supports the city’s chosen standards. For another, it lets the city build projects over time in phases, with confidence that all the pieces will work together in the end.

Security and privacy

Security and privacy are technologies, policies and practices that safeguard data, privacy and physical assets. Examples include the publishing of clear privacy rules and the implementation of a cybersecurity system. Security and privacy play a critical role in enabling smart cities because they build trust with people. Without trust, a city may have difficulty adopting new technologies and practices.

Data management

Data management is the process of storing, protecting, and processing data while guaranteeing its accuracy, accessibility, reliability, and timeliness. Data is king in a smart city. Proper management is essential to maintain data integrity and value. Citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy – including proper policies around access, authentication and authorization – is one step toward proper data management, as explained below.

Computing resources

Computing resources include 1) the computer “brains” themselves, 2) storage of data and 3) special capabilities needed for smart cities. A geographic information system (GIS) is the most essential special capability since it allows the smart city to know where everything is located. But it’s worth noting that GIS is only as helpful as the data cities provide to it. All three computing resources are increasingly supplied via the “cloud” – remote servers connected to the Internet. Cities have options for deploying cloud services, including public, private and hybrid models.


Analytics create value from the data that instrumentation provides. Examples include: forecasting crime the way we already forecast weather; analyzing electric power usage to know when and where to expand; analyzing conditions to predict which equipment needs repair; automatically plotting the best route for a mass transit user, and creating personalized portals for every citizen by analyzing what they value most. And analytics that utilizes data from across departments have tremendous potential to identify new insights and unique solutions to delivering services, thereby improving outcomes.

The role of dependencies in smart city planning

In the previous section we explored the dangers and pitfalls of siloed cities. Cities that don’t coordinate their various departments at the technology planning level often end up with redundant investments in technologies, training and even personnel.

But there’s an even deeper connection between smart city responsibilities that can’t be overlooked. That’s the matter of dependences. Since so many city systems, services and infrastructures are connected in one way or another, becoming smart in one area is often dependent on progress being made in another.

As cities develop long-term goals and plans, it is important to consider how desired improvements to the performance of a single responsibility may require improvements in a responsibility on which there is a dependency. For example, cities cannot expect to foster a healthy population if water systems cannot ensure water quality. Yet water systems rely heavily on energy systems to pump and move water through city infrastructure. So, as you plan projects to improve water infrastructure, be sure to examine any requirements that need to be addressed by electrical systems and the distribution grid. Think holistically to avoid having to make major system changes or unanticipated course corrections further into your smart city planning.

As you move through the sections in this tutorial, we will highlight dependencies that merit consideration. You’ll come to realize that understanding dependencies is another reason to bring cross-departmental teams together early in your smart city planning process.

The Readiness Guide structure

The Readiness Guide is comprised of multiple chapters. One chapter examines “universal” principles – enablers common to all responsibilities. The chapters that follow detail how individual city responsibilities – power, trans – portation, public safety, payments, etc. – should use the technology enablers. Two final chapters cover how to translate the Guide’s theories into a roadmap.

Each chapter has three sections. The first section envisions what each responsibility could look like by the year 2030. The second section examines the benefits that arise from each target. Targets are goals – end points or outcomes a city should work toward. A third section provides a checklist of the relevant targets for that responsibility. You can use these checklists (and the summary checklist in the final chapter) to create a “wish list” that can inform and improve your smart city roadmap.

Scattered throughout are brief examples to show how cities are applying these theories in real life.

What this guide does NOT do. We’ve talked about what the Guide wants to do, but it’s also important to acknowledge the things that are outside its scope.

The Guide does NOT suggest what your city’s overall goals should be. Smart city technologies are a means to an end. Every city should decide for itself what ends it hopes to achieve. But whatever you’re after, the targets described in this guide represent the best technical foundation for pursuing those goals.

The Guide does NOT propose which respon – sibilities should be prioritized. Every city has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, its own unique history and resources, its own unique preferences and aspirations. Some cities may choose to tackle transportation first, for instance, while others may feel that energy is more urgent.

The Guide does NOT pretend that its targets are set in stone. Change is continuous, and technology advances are famously unpredict – able. The targets shown here are the best recommendations we can make today, as informed by a large contingent of the world’s top experts. They will put cities on the right path, but cities will still need to make periodic evaluations and course corrections as technology evolves.


As you review the chapters that follow, you can use the checklists at the end of each one to note where your city is currently weak or strong. Once you’ve completed those assess – ments, you can transfer them to the summary checklist in the final chapter, Ideas to Action. With that summary in place, you’ll be ready to build your smart city roadmap, using the tips and techniques provided in that last chapter.

The mission of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide is to set you on the path to becoming a city of the future – a smart city with enhanced livability, workability and sustainability. It will take patience to march through each chapter to compile your own “wish list” of essential features. And it will take leadership to build those features into a comprehensive smart city plan that has the support of the public.

But amazing advantages await those cities that make the effort. Their citizens will have a healthier, happier place to live along with better, higher-paying jobs. And all of that in a sustainable fashion that doesn’t rob from the next generation.

Universal Aspects of a Smart City

Some of today’s greatest cities benefitted from visionaries who – centuries ago – saw possibilities for civic betterment and made it happen. A compelling example comes from leaders back in the 1800s. Way before the phrase “urban sprawl” had entered our psyche, they committed to preserving vast amounts of open spaces for public use. Think of Hyde Park in London, Central Park jutting through Manhattan or Ueno Park in Tokyo. They are all testaments to leaders “thinking outside the box” a very long time ago.

Fast-forward a couple of centuries. It’s your turn to make that same kind of lasting impact on your city. This chapter will help get you started. In many ways, it is the most important chapter in the Guide because it lays out the universal principles that should underlie every city responsibility, from water to power to public safety and all the rest. Get these right and you’ve set up your city for decades of success.

This chapter includes 17 goals — we call them “targets” — that will propel you down the smart city path. We refer to these 17 as “universal targets” because each of them applies to every city responsibility.

Here’s an example: One of the targets is to use analytics to achieve full situational awareness. That means giving system operators a real-time, big-picture view of what’s going on so they can spot problems early and act quickly to mitigate them. An example might be an accident that has a major thoroughfare blocked. Knowing about the accident in real-time gives transit operators a chance to reroute buses.

But that situational awareness also has great value to public safety, to water, to energy, to… well, to virtually every city responsibility, hence their inclusion in this Universal chapter. (In later chapters, you’ll read about targets that apply only to specific responsibilities – energy or transportation, for instance).

Before we drill down on the 17 universal targets, a quick refresher on key terms:

  • ICT — information and communications technologies. The blanket term for the devices, software and communications that make cities smart.
  • Instrumentation – the devices used to collect data about city conditions. Examples include smart meters, occupancy sensors, temperature sensors, light detectors, pressure sensors and many more.
  • Responsibilities – the everyday essential functions and services a city provides such as water, public safety, transportation, etc.
  • Enablers – to enable is “to give power, means, competence or ability.” By that token, enablers are the individual ICT components that allow city responsibilities to get smart. Examples include computing resources, data analytics and similar functionalities.
  • Targets – goals for smart city efforts. A series of objectives that, taken together, form the foundation of an ICT-enabled smart city.

Before we go further, let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits that your citizens will gain once you start checking off the smart city targets recommended in this Guide.

Benefits of realizing the universal targets

We’ve talked about the hurdles cities face on their smart city journey and how realizing targets will require commitment, planning and execution. Now let’s talk about the rewards!

Because the 17 universal targets described here apply to every responsibility, the benefits highlighted below are also citywide in their application. We’ve organized the benefits by our three core smart city objectives – enhanced livability, workability and sustainability.

Livability will mean different things to different people because we all define quality of life in different ways. Yet the smart city benefits high – lighted below have the potential to help everyone:

Revolutionizing people’s relationship with their government. By providing instant, elec -tronic access to the information people need, the services they require, and the interaction they want with officials, cities build citizen trust and satisfaction.

Improving city service by sharing data. Many of the most exciting city applications come from sharing data between departments. Or, in a similar fashion, by sharing data with outside developers who can innovate new applications. For instance, cities including Amsterdam, London, Philadelphia and San Francisco have instituted “Open Data” programs. They have resulted in hundreds of innovative applications, including trip planners, parking spot finders, bus locators, crime reporting and alerts, and business planning tools, to name just a few.

Enabling real-time alerts and real-time monitoring. Health and public safety are improved when citizens are alerted to fires, floods, airquality issues, public disturbances, pipeline leaks, downed electricity lines, chemical spills, snowstorms and snow plows, metro lines, bus locations, etc.

Creating citywide situational awareness. When you are able to fully visualize your city’s traffic, energy, gas and water networks, you can best ensure reliability and resiliency of those essential services.

Protecting personal privacy. People have a right to and a great desire for privacy and that issue will certainly crop up when you start marching down the smart city path. The Guide’s universal principles include recommendations on privacy.

Workability means accelerated economic development.

Creating world-class infrastructure. Businesses weight the efficiency and reliability of city infrastructures when they make their investments. They have many options. Why locate in city A, when nearby city B has a more efficient transportation network, a more reliable and cost-effective energy grid, or a more advanced law enforcement program? Cities that have optimized their infrastructures are more attractive investment locations.

Protecting business from cybercrime. Hacking and theft are serious risks to businesses. A 2012 study reported that incidents of cybercrime doubled over the last three years, while their financial impact rose by 40%. Enforcingcybersecurity, as described in this Guide, will help city government achieve safety and resiliency, and create trust for companies contemplating a move to your city.

Unleashing innovation. Cities that free up their data via Open Data or similar programs will unleash the power of people on their data sets and benefit from new ideas. Data is a valuable and profitable resource that can fuel innovation and invention, thereby creating new businesses, revenue streams and jobs.

Creating a “recruiting tool” for attracting talent and jobs. Increasingly mobile businesses and professionals are attracted to cities that have a strong, compelling vision for a better future.

Supporting skills development. According to a 2012 study, despite the relatively high unemployment rate in the United States, 49% of employers reported having difficulty in filling science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs. City-supported skill development can be an enormous draw to businesses looking for specialized talent.

Sustainability is how smart cities provide necessary and desirable services in a way that doesn’t deplete resources.

Reducing resource use through optimization. The optimization gains from analytics and improved planning mean that cities, their businesses and their residents consume fewer resources. By harnessing the power of ICT, smart cities can curb the theft of resources and deliver a better future for generations to come.

Enabling a broad selection of technology choices. Cities that pursue interoperability in their smart technology investments will save money by being able to pick from the widest variety of solutions possible.

Reducing duplication of effort. When smart city efforts are confined to departmental silos, functions are needlessly repeated. This unnecessary duplication may range from market research to community outreach to technical design to security planning to staff training to procurement processes to designing user interfaces and much more. Agreeing in advance on universal principles takes care of these things once, for use in all departments.

Reducing costs through infrastructure sharing. Some early smart city efforts have overlooked the potential to share costs. Here are just a few of the elements that can often be purchased or designed just once and reused many times: geographical information systems (GIS); communications networks; cybersecurity designs and implementations; database management systems; enterprise service buses; workforce and field crew management architecture, and operations centers. Additionally, in some cases, costs can be reduced by partnering with private sector providers (operators) who have already deployed networks and services.

Reducing costs by re-using software modules. By realizing the targets in this Guide, cities can construct their applications in a way that creates a collaborative and secure environment, makes it easy to share code modules between different applications, minimizing expensive programming.

Increasing economies of scale. By agreeing on universal standards and specifications, cities can often lower their purchasing costs while increasing interoperability. Otherwise, each city department makes its own small, slightly different order with diminished bargaining power.

Embedding best practices. By way of example, consider something as crucial as cybersecurity. Now suppose that every department is responsible on its own for researching, planning and implementing that security. It’s not hard to recognize that some departments will not have the skills and resources to do the best possible job. By contrast, if the city adopts a universal security framework, it can be assured that the individual departmental implementations will be state-of-the-art.

Enabling better financial forecasting. Financial forecasting is an important discipline and it can be greatly enhanced with the help of the data flowing from smart cities. Combining and correlating growth projections, depreciation and historic operating patterns can improve cities’ 5-, 10- and 20-year plans. And by monitoring key performance indicators, cities can measure their progress and their return on investment.

Squeezing the maximum value from city assets. Electronically monitoring the actual condition of assets at every moment helps predict when they will need maintenance in time to prevent breakdowns. With device management and asset optimization, cities will save money while still ensuring the reliability of their technology deployments.

Using computer simulations to plan with great precision. Thanks to computer modeling and simulations, cities can test assumptions, try different scenarios and make mistakes in the simulations instead of costly mistakes in real life. Many experts predict that smart city technologies will change the very nature of planning – from a once-in-a-decade activity based on estimates to an ongoing process based upon real-time data.

How to use this chapter (and the ones that follow)

The goal of the Readiness Guide is to help you make two key decisions: 1) where you want to end up and 2) where you should start.

This chapter and those that follow will help you with the first issue. They suggest the targets at which you should aim. Your only job is to review those targets and determine a) whether they apply to your city and b) how far along you are already.

When it comes to which ones apply, we are biased – we think every target in this Guide is essential to the long-term success of a smart city. Not to be overly dramatic, but you ignore these targets – especially the universal targets – at your own peril.

The universal targets are highlighted on the checklist you’ll see on the next page (and again at the end of the chapter). Each target is explained in detail on the pages that follow. When it comes to how far along you are, you can use the column at the far right of the checklist to record your estimate. You’ll use that estimate of progress in the final chapter, Ideas to Action, where you will set your priorities.

Knowing where you are strong and weak will help you choose where to point your smart city efforts first.

You don’t have to over-think the process. Nor do you have to become an expert in every target. When you have gone through all the chapters and completed the consolidated t final chapter, you will be handing it to specialists to build detailed project plans. You can count on their expertise for the details.

A few large cities will hand their target list to in-house staff. But most cities will use outside experts. Either way, your job is to hand those experts your “wish list” – your prioritized target list. That list will tell them, in general terms, where you want to start and where you want to end up.

So don’t feel overwhelmed as you read through the targets. Your job is not to solve all of these issues. That’s where the experts come in. Your job is to know which issues need a solution and to decide which issues to tackle first.

If you have further questions about targets and checklists, reach out to the Smart Cities Council via the website or the contact information in the appendix.

And now, on to the universal targets. As you read through each one, jump to a checklist to record your assessment of your city’s progress. After completing this chapter and the ones that follow, use the summary checklist in the final chapter to combine your results into one document.

Instrumentation and control

Instrumentation is the bedrock of smart cities. It provides the key source of data that allows a city to make informed decisions on how to reduce costs and allocate funding. In energy, instrumentation may mean smart meters that measure energy flow. In transportation it may mean embedded devices in roads and highways that measure traffic.

Implement optimal instrumentation. The purpose of this target is two-fold. 1) We use instrumentation to gather information about city conditions. 2) We use control devices to take action remotely — for instance, to throw a switch or open a valve. Becoming smart is all about having the right data to work with to make better decisions. So the overarching
goal is optimal instrumentation and control.

Optimal is the keyword here. The ideal smart city will have exactly the devices it needs, exactly where needed. In many responsibility areas, optimal may mean a device at every endpoint. In water, for instance, it may mean a smart water meter at every customer premise. In other cases, it may mean a sensor “every so often” – as frequently as needed to generate enough data to provide a full picture of what’s going on.

Three issues are worth mentioning as they apply to instrumentation; these three will be addressed in more detail later in the chapter:

Privacy and security — Given the amount of data generated, cities must be absolutely vigilant about respecting privacy and implementing security.

Legacy devices — Your city may already have lots of data available without the need for additional instrumentation immediately. For instance, anonymous cell phone GPS data can tell you where people are, or how fast they are moving on roadways. Key intersections may already have traffic sensors. Streetlights may already detect ambient light. Water, power or gas utilities may already have smart meters. You may decide to add additional sensors – especially now that prices are plummeting – but it’s often possible to get started with the data you are getting already.

Connectivity — In smart cities, instrumentation needs to be connectible. Having sensors that need to be checked manually
is not optimal – for instance, you wouldn’t want to have to send a technician to every water pump in your city.

Implementing optimal instrumentation creates the data critical to a smart city. It is also the first step in connecting city infrastructure to the “Internet of Things,” which is described next in the connectivity discussion.


Take a moment to consider the incredible ways technology has changed our lives in the last four decades – microprocessors, ATMs, the World Wide Web, email, Google maps, smartphones and iPads to name a few. Clearly we’ve been on a connectivity roll for a while. And it’s not going to stop. Today we are entering the Internet of Things (IoT) era where people talk to devices and devices talk to each other. This helps explains why connectivity is such a robust smart city enabler, and why machine-to-machine communications is all the buzz these days.

Connect devices with citywide, multi-service communications. Above we discussed gathering data through optimal instrumentation. Once those instruments are generating information, they need to be connected so they can communicate to provide data, as well as be able to receive orders.

The target, therefore, is to connect all devices to a citywide communications system. In rare cases, cities use a single communications network for all device connectivity. In most cases, cities use a variety of communications channels, including cellular, fiber, WiFi, power.

But it’s not enough to have just any communications system. It’s critical to have systems that are reliable and secure, based on open standards, high data rates and able to offer real-time communications to those devices that need it.

Most cities will have multiple communications systems because no single network can realistically support every single application now and into the future. To save costs, cities ought to give strong consideration to the following approaches:

• Minimize the number of networks supported at city expense. To the extent that the city or its utilities need their own private networks, they should try to establish multipurpose networks rather than a collection of single-purpose communications networks.

• Investigate the viability of existing public networks before building your own private network. For instance, existing cellular networks have the capacity to support smart grids, smart traffic management and smart water networks.

• Encourage cross-departmental planning and design to learn whether multiple departments can share a single network.

• Investigate policies and incentives that encourage the private sector to invest in building and maintaining citywide networks.

Prioritize technologies and tools that can manage “hybrid” (mixed) networks. Tools exist that can merge different communications technologies, even old analog technologies such as radio.

Connecting instrumentation and control devices allows a city to feed data into analytical programs that greatly improve outcomes, minimize resource use and save money, as we will cover in detail later.


Interoperability ensures the technologies you deploy work well together. There are three interoperability targets:

Adhere to open standards. If you hope to achieve your smart city goals, different technologies from different vendors must be able to work together. In particular, they must be able to exchange information. Adhering to standards helps to guarantee that the products you buy can use predefined mechanisms to talk to each other.

And you don’t want just any standards, you want “open” standards – standards that have been defined by an industry group and published for all to use. This contrasts with “proprietary” standards, which typically come from a single vendor who retains control over who can use them and when they will change.

Adhere to open standards. If you hope to achieve your smart city goals, different technologies from different vendors must be able to work together. In particular, they must be able to exchange information. Adhering to standards helps to guarantee that the products you buy can use predefined mechanisms to talk to each other. And you don’t want just any standards, you want “open” standards – standards that have been defined by an industry group and published for all to use. This contrasts with “proprietary” standards, which typically come from a single vendor who retains control over
who can use them and when they will change.

Open standards help cities control both their expenses and their risk. They allow cities to mix and match products from different vendors without jeopardizing the ability to exchange data. Put another way, open standards contribute to interoperability, choice and flexibility. They also make maintenance easier, because there are communities of specialists trained in published standards, such as those from Council advisors the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and many others including 3GPP for 3G/4G and the WiFi Alliance.

Although open standards are absolutely essential to the long-term success of a smart city, putting them into practice can be challenging. There are hundreds if not thousands of standards that apply to one aspect or another of urban life. The best advice is to leave the heavy lifting to the experts. When you get to the project planning phase (as described in the final chapter), select suppliers with a public, proven commitment to open standards. Give them the task of selecting the best ones to use, subject to the oversight of your project manager or systems integrator.

When it comes to the smart grid portion, there is happily some good news. The IEC has undertaken the job of creating a free Smart Grid Standards Mapping Tool that makes it far easier to discover and choose between standards. Using either a diagram or a list, you can drill down to a specific aspect, then see a list of all the standards that relate. The IEC lists not just its own standards, but those from other organizations as well.

Use open integration architectures and loosely coupled interfaces to facilitate the sharing of data and reuse of code. This gets a bit technical, but the important thing to understand is that you can build your applications in a way that makes it easy to reuse code “modules,” saving time and expense. Systems that are “loosely coupled” don’t have components that are dependent on each other, theoretically making it easier to swap them in and out. Open integration architectures are enhanced by methodologies such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise service bus (ESB). Benefits include:

  • Faster software implementations because they can be assembled in part from previously written modules
  • More robust implementations because the city can have standardized tools and best practices
  • Greater scalability because the loose coupling that is part of an open integration architecture allows for high availability, fault tolerance and load balancing — techniques that allow systems to deal with huge amounts of data
  • Easier changes because you alter only the affected module(s), not the entire application, and because changing one module has minimal impact on the rest of the system.

Prioritize legacy investments. No city can afford to rip out its current infrastructure and replace everything from scratch. Priority must go to making the most of existing investments. Typically, that means retrofitting existing assets—streets, buildings, equipment— with sensors and communications. Fortunately, a wave of new, low-cost technologies makes it possible to connect legacy
assets. In the area of emergency response, it is now possible to integrate old, analog radios with state-of-the-art IP-based communications, stitching them together into a seamless network. Likewise, a city government can often find ways to continue using old software by sending its data to new software modules that add value on top. Likewise, an electric power utility doesn’t have to replace its old transformers, it can simply add transformer monitors to report on their conditions.

Security and privacy

One of the greatest challenges for smart city leaders is to reassure residents that their rights will be respected and their data protected. This section highlights three important targets that address those issues.

Publish privacy rules. Make it a priority to produce clear privacy policies that are easily accessible. The rules should balance residents’ desire for privacy and control with the ability to gain access to data to provide better services. They should stipulate:

  • Which data sets are owned by which stakeholders
  • What rights and protections are afforded by ownership
  • Which data sets are private (requiring autho-rization prior to sharing)
  • Which data sets can be shared with the city or authorized third parties
  • How data can be shared if defined protocols for making information anonymous are followed.

Publishing privacy rules can save time, money and headaches. It can also unleash innovation. Entrepreneurs are more comfortable building new products and services if they know the rules in advance and they know those rules will apply equally to their competition.

It’s one thing to have privacy rules. It’s another to ensure that residents and businesses know about them — and yet another to actively enforce them in collaboration with national and state/province level authorities.

A 2013 column in the Boston Globe titled “The Too-Smart City” garnered a lot of attention. It took a “big brother is watching” slant on the smart cities movement: “A city tracking its citizens, even for helpful reasons, encroaches on the personal liberty we count on in public spaces.”

Cities and cultures will have different priorities for privacy. There are several sources of guidance on privacy rules that cities may want to review. As you will see, you don’t need to invent your privacy guidelines from scratch. 

Create a citywide security policy that continually assesses risks. Privacy is freedom from public scrutiny. Security is freedom from danger and for that a city needs a rigorous, city-wide security policy. That policy should encompass data, devices and communications systems at a minimum. Smart cities generate a lot of data. They also connect critical infrastructure to the Internet. Those actions create many benefits, but they also create new threats. It’s best not to leave it to each individual department to come up with a security plan. Instead, implement and enforce best practices citywide.

A security policy should use a risk management framework that continually assesses vulnerabilities. Risk management is the identification, assessment and prioritization of risks combined with a plan to minimize their impacts. Risk management continues throughout the technology lifecycle and drives the evolution of security protocols and practices.

A smart city’s risk management framework must be comprehensive, encompassing the cybersecurity as well as the physical security of all assets — from massive infrastructure to tiny mobile devices. The framework should encompass not just the necessary technical steps, but also a thorough program of education and training. (Many famous security breaches were launched with the help of “social engineering”
to convince a naive person to take a step that made the system vulnerable.)

Risk management cannot avoid all risk, but it can minimize adverse effects. It lessens unwelcome surprises, assists incorrect prioritization and reassures residents. A security framework is a combination of well-defined policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that provide consistency citywide. It also promotes a proactive approach to security, identifying and mitigating threats before they occur.

Data management

The streams of data that smart cities collect create enormous opportunities, but also require special handling. Smart cities treat public data as a citywide asset. That data needs to be accessible to other systems and stakeholders including, where possible, the research community to help ensure that the analytic environment is always current. Citizens, of course, will expect full access to their own data. These requirements demand a citywide policy.

As we move forward, city data will be used by multiple applications from multiple departments. And it may be used by outside developers as the foundation for useful services to
benefit residents. An error in master data can cause errors in all the applications that use it. In a similar fashion, an error in releasing data to those not authorized can cause a cascade of problems.

One more time for emphasis: A smart city’s most precious resource is the data it produces. Do not squander and endanger that valuable commodity by failing to carefully define a thorough data policy, as explained below.

Create a citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy. Ideally, cities should build a master plan and an information data model that spells out how data is governed, stored and made accessible. Best practices call for a clear governance directive that a) establishes the chain of authority and control over data assets and b) spells out who makes access decisions and who determines accountability. The citywide data management policy defines a city information model for all entities and assets that preserves relationships, attributes and behaviors.

This citywide policy should cover both private and public data and ensure that data from each department is made available to others. It must also align with the policies in the security and privacy targets discussed previously. It is important for data to be stored on secure, reliable and scalable systems long enough to enable the dependable pattern analysis and reliable forecasting explained in the analytics target later in this Guide.

A citywide data management plan will increase the city’s agility (ability to quickly build new applications as needed) and accuracy (by ensuring everyone is working with correct data). It can also lower costs by reducing errors and eliminating unnecessary duplication. A citywide plan also makes it much easier to enforce privacy, security and best practices.

Computing resources

Keeping up with ever-advancing computing technologies in an era of budget constraints can put city leaders between the proverbial rock and hard place. But smart cities find a way – and sometimes find the more advanced solution is more budget-friendly too. Even so, there is a right way and a wrong way to pursue your computing objectives, as you’ll discover in reading about the four targets in this section.

Consider a cloud computing framework. There are many ways to deploy computers, but most cities should consider cloud computing first. It is the computing framework best equipped to deliver efficiency and optimization.

Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers to store, manage and process data. Typically those servers are accessed via the Internet. Please note that cloud
computing can be delivered as a service from a third party – sometimes called “hosted solutions” or “software-as-a-service” (SaaS). Or it can be built and operated by a city using the same architectural principles as third-party providers.

Cloud computing provides a common, shared foundation across departments and across different computer systems. Consider these attributes:

• Identity services for consistent and secure single sign-on.
• Virtualization for seamless application portability. Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system. A single server can run as multiple “virtual” computers with different operating systems, for instance.
• Management functions for full visibility and control
• Scalability to support millions of data collection points
• Industry-standard frameworks and languages for writing applications.

Applications and services reside in the cloud, where they are accessible from any device. Additionally, those applications and services are typically built with an event-triggered enterprise service bus architecture that provides a structured method for combining loosely coupled software components. As we discussed earlier in the interoperability target, this approach makes it easy to share data and reuse software code between departments.

The benefits of cloud computing are many:

• Growth – It becomes easier to add computing power in small increments
• Power – It’s typically less costly and simpler to scale up computing services
• Reliability – If one computer crashes, others can easily pick up the slack
• Cost – It becomes possible to mix and match hardware from different vendors, increasing choice and thus driving down expenditures. In addition, many third-party providers will “rent” software to cities for a monthly charge, with little or no upfront cost.
• Advanced features – Smaller cities can gain the same functionality as their larger cousins by tapping into cloud offerings from third parties. The provider sells the service to many different customers, allowing it to enjoy economies of scale that make it possible to create advanced features. Smaller cities would never be able to afford the large ICT staff and server farm required to host such applications on their own.

Cloud computing may not be an immediate option for every city. Cities that have already made large investments in other approaches may settle on a hybrid computing model. And cities in geographies with a cultural emphasis on centralization may prefer a centralized computing model.

• Establish an open innovation platform – Open Data. Today’s Open Data movement represents one of the most powerful opportunities cities have to connect with citizens in meaningful, life-impacting ways. The move to make public data freely accessible to anyone who wants to use it for legitimate purposes has been referred to as “the big bang” for all of the Big Data that cities are amassing today. U.S. President Barack Obama characterizes Open Data as “the new default for government information.”

However, you label it, by making raw public information easy to access, you allow city employees, utilities, citizens and third-party developers to create innovative applications and services for the benefit of the city and its residents.

Most of this information has been collected at taxpayer expense. And most of it is available to the public in theory. Until recently, however, it could not be accessed in a useful way. (You can’t build a data-based application if you have to go city hall and pull it out of paper files.)

New York City has been one of several leaders in the Open Data movement. In September 2013, officials there announced that since the launch of its Open Data portal in 2011, the city has opened up more than 1,100 data sets from over 60 agencies. These data sets total more than 600 million rows and have received more than 2.8 million views. NYC also announced a citywide plan to unlock all of its public data by 2018.

NYC, of course, is not alone. Government agencies around the world are embracing Open Data, providing dozens if not hundreds of applications that take advantage of city-data. These applications range from:
• Transit planning apps that show the best way to travel
• Crime reporting apps that show trouble spots
• Street monitoring apps that pinpoint potholes and problems
• Mapping apps for first responders
• Location apps that show where to find ATMs, hotspots, daycare centers, urgent care centers, government offices, parks, meeting spaces, etc.

Clearly Open Data and similar innovation platforms can improve public services in countless ways. It can also make government agencies more accountable, generate new revenue
streams and help to stimulate economic growth.

But cities often confront stumbling blocks on the road to an Open Data environment. Two that may be most challenging:

1. Governance and privacy issues. Who owns the data, who controls it, what safeguards are in place to protect personal information when a city decides to open its data for public consumption? Open Data policies must be  clarified in the broader data management, transparency and sharing policy discussed earlier.

2. Non-standard data formats. Rather than spending taxpayer dollars to reinvent the wheel in every city, one of the promises of Open Data is the ability to share apps between cities. But that requires cities to use the same data schema, which is often not the case. However, there is an initiative underway involving seven major U.S. cities – Boston, Chicago,
Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle – to create a database of standardized Open Data applications.

Fortunately, help is at hand for cities that want to join the Open Data movement, as you’ll read in the adjacent sidebar.


There’s no single path to an Open Data initiative, but most cities will want to take these three steps:

Create a team of Open Data advocates: You’ll want a team that includes personnel from a number of departments, including but not limited to: IT, communications/media and managers from departments with data sets with citizen appeal – for example, public safety, transit, public health. Perhaps most important is to have executive-level representation on the team – the city manager or mayor, for instance.

Develop an Open Data policy: First, develop an Open Data policy that is included in and consistent with the city’s broader data management, transparency and sharing policy. Second, create an Open Data policy roadmap that outlines your goals, which data sets you will start with (this can be expanded once you’ve tried a few pilots), where and how you will make them available (a new web portal, on your existing city website, etc.) and what needs to get done by when and by whom. Third, smart city planners should emphasize the importance of open software interfaces and open data encodings, preferably open interfaces and encodings that implement the freely usable global interface and encoding standards. These enable technical interoperability between diverse systems, which enables Open Data policies to work.

Choose your first project: Typically the safest approach is to choose a relatively small, lowcost pilot project to get some experience,  work out any problems and get a success under your belt. You may want to take the approach that other cities have found successful and reach out to your local developer community via contests and hackathons. They’ll likely have ideas about which data sets would make useful apps. Another route is to analyze what kinds of information is most requested by members of the public.

Once a city opens up its data, citizens and businesses start to rely on it. They may even have their business and revenue streams depend on it. Cities should make sure their Open Data implementation offers a 24x7x365 availability in a secure and performant manner. As such, a choice for Open Data becomes a core responsibility of the city, reflected in a strong information backbone.

Useful Open Data resources
There are many, many places to turn for ideas and inspiration on Open Data initiatives. We’ll highlight a few and links to several others.

City Forward is a free, web-based platform that enables users – city officials, researchers, academics and interested citizens worldwide – to view and interact with publicly available city data about cities and metropolitan areas around the world. On the site, which is a philanthropic donation of services and technology from Councilmember IBM, users can search for data by city, subject or source.

Code for America (CfA), described as a “Peace Corps for geeks” by Jennifer Pahlka who founded it in 2009, runs a fellowship program designed to leverage technology and government data to make cities run better. Among the apps developed by CfA’s fellows are Boston’s adopt-a-hydrant app and Honolulu’s tsunami warning app.

Data-Smart City Solutions – an initiative by the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School and powered by Bloomberg Philanthropies – features news and trends in civic data. It’s a helpful resource if you want to see what other cities are doing with Open Data. showcases examples of cities and developers working together to improve the lives of city residents.

Have access to a central GIS. A geographic information system (GIS) that maps all of the city’s assets and location information is a big contributor to what makes a smart city smart. Most cities will want to implement a single, central GIS system so that data from one department (traffic alerts, for instance) can be shared with others (such as emergency responders). Some cities even share the cost of GIS services with outside organizations, such as utilities and phone companies.

GIS is tailor-made for smart cities. To name just a few of the great applications of this technology, cities can use GIS to:

•Map crime data to aid their public safety work
• Locate pipes, pumps, cables and other assets to help better monitor and analyze the efficacy of their water infrastructure
• Maximize traffic flow and share helpful traffic maps with the public
• Conduct better environmental impact assessments for their buildings and parks

There are also many benefits to cities with GIS:

• Spatial decision-making is greatly improved
• Efficiency gains accrue through more intelligent maintenance scheduling and delivery routes
• Improved accuracy of essential records such as property boundaries and locations of key assets
• Resiliency is boosted through improved situational awareness in times of stress.

Everything in a city has a location. In a smart city, location information is being used and produced for countless purposes by countless different systems. Cities need to encourage use of open standards that provide seamless between different systems. Open interface and encoding standards prevent vendor lockin and enable systems of many kinds to share all types of geographic information. Most GISs implement open encoding and interface standards that enable them to “talk to” other GISs as well as diverse mobile devices, emergency response systems, smart grids, sensor webs, smart vehicles and more.

Application developers discover countless opportunities for innovation when cities provide access to 3D urban models, address data, elevation data, zoning, bus routes etc. via encodings and interfaces that implement open standards.

Have access to the comprehensive network and device management. Eventually, cities could have hundreds of thousands or even millions of small devices connected to their networks. That’s a lot of devices! Smart cities (or their suppliers) will need a robust device management platform that handles tasks such as device detection and registration, device configuration, device connection and disconnection, device security, device troubleshooting and device updates and upgrades. Such a platform is able to support virtually any kind of device, and it can span multiple communications networks.

Being able to manage devices remotely and with computer assistance offers significant benefits. Among them:

• Cities can save time, improve their infrastructure security and quickly and easily implement any necessary software upgrades
• Cost savings accrue to cities through the central management of their devices
• It is easier to enforce consistency and compliance with the city’s data management, security and privacy policies.


We don’t want to diminish the importance of the other enablers. But truth be told, analytics is a super enabler. Analytics takes massive quantities of data and turns it into actionable intelligence that enhances livability, workability and sustainability in very direct ways. In this section we’ll cover three targets that let cities tap into the full power of analytics.

Achieve full situational awareness. Gain full knowledge of what is going on throughout the city.

This situational awareness can be delivered in many ways. From “dashboards” to visualizations to command and control centers and to alerts delivered to computers or phones. The exact method of delivery depends on the unique circumstances of your city. In most cities, this kind of awareness doesn’t happen today. If you consider systems such as energy, water, traffic, policing and emergency response,  you’ll recognize that today’s operators are often “flying blind.” They may know general parameters, but they don’t know precisely what is going on at every point throughout the system. One example is an electric utility that has not yet deployed smart meters or other sensing technologies across the electric grid. If power is out in a neighborhood, the utility may not know it until a customer calls in. Same story with transit operators, who may not get a heads-up that a bus has been disabled in an accident until the driver has a chance to make a call.

Giving operators full situational awareness has a long list of benefits. One is safety – for instance, we don’t want police officers or firefighters sent into danger without a full picture of what they’re getting into. A second is reliability and resiliency – for instance, utility workers can restore outages much more quickly if they aren’t waiting for someone to call in and report them. And third is efficiency–a full picture of the entire system makes it much easier to make the correct choices and trade-offs. Additionally, operating budgets, staff and shift requirements can be reduced through mobile and remote monitoring and control technologies.

Achieve operational optimization. Taking steps to arrive at the best decisions (including financial decisions) for the overall system.

A simple definition is “the process of making something as good as possible.” It implies balancing tradeoffs to achieve the best results. Today, infrastructure and system optimization–if it occurs at all – happens without the ability to truly see the big picture. But in the smart city of tomorrow, optimization will have data from many sensors and subsystems plus the computer power to analyze all of that input to find the best path forward.

As you can see, infrastructure and system operational optimization offers many benefits. For instance, in energy and water scenarios it:
• Provides for the efficient generation, distribution, consumption and reporting of resources, both in the aggregate and at the individual business/citizen level.
• Strikes an optimal balance between asset and citizen needs and health
• Enables the application of learning in the continuous maintenance, tuning and commissioning of assets.

The bottom line, operational optimization delivers cost saving, resource-saving and better outcomes to cities and people.

Achieve asset optimization. Smart cities gain the maximum lifetime value from all of their assets by applying advanced analytics to the data gathered from their instrumentation. In other words, city assets – roads, power poles, transformers, pumps and so on – are equipped with sensors and instrumentation that report their condition. Then asset management systems can analyze that data to optimize asset performance and maximize their lifetime value.

Even a medium-sized city can save tens of millions of dollars over time through asset optimization. For instance, a city can service its buses based on their actual condition not on a guess or an average or fixed schedule–sometimes referred to as “condition-based” or “predictive” maintenance.

Likewise, a city can replace or upgrade only the equipment that actually needs it, whether water pumps or bridges. Doing that extends the useful life of assets that may be past their design life on paper but are still performing well in real life.

Good asset management systems can also determine the “criticality” of an asset, so the city can accurately prioritize which assets need attention first because of the impact their failure would have on the system as a whole.

Pursue predictive analytics. As we’ve said, smart cities can pull data pieces together to analyze what is happening in real-time and make operational decisions. But the value of that data doesn’t end there. Through predictive analytics, cities can get a glimpse of what’s going to happen next – from where crime is most likely to occur to where streetlights are going to fail to where traffic congestion will stall the morning commute.

With predictive analytics, you can uncover patterns and associations you might not discover as quickly otherwise. Schools, for instance, might use analytics to identify patterns in dropout rates and then which students are at-risk and which retention strategies might prove effective.

Here’s another example: Data scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Council member, have created a social media analysis tool capable of analyzing billions of tweets and other social media messages in just seconds. The idea is to discover patterns and make sense of the data and ultimately to surface useful information that can enhance public safety and health. An increasing number of messages on social media about social unrest could provide early warnings that can help authorities protect citizens from riots or other disturbances.


The built environment is an essential piece of the smart city puzzle. Buildings are the biggest single source of carbon emissions, accounting for about 40 percent of the world’s carbon footprint, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Buildings are energy hogs too, eating up nearly half of all energy consumed in the United States. Any city serious about livability, workability and sustainability must raise the “intelligence quotient” of its built environment.

This chapter will give city leaders and planners the tools to make the built environment part of the solution. It begins by defining the terms and explaining how buildings interact with information and communications technologies (ICT). It turns next to the way smart buildings create benefits for a city. Finally, it lists the technology targets that allow a city to achieve those benefits. As we go along, we’ll pause for brief case studies from around the world.

Key definitions

The term ‘built environment’ encompasses all human-made infrastructures. It refers to buildings, of course, but also to parks, stadiums and public spaces. However, three aspects of the built environment– streets, energy infrastructure and water infrastructure – are not emphasized here because they are addressed in separate chapters.

Buildings are a prominent part of every city, from private homes to offices, factories, stores, schools, hotels, restaurants and theaters. ‘Smart buildings’ is the common shorthand for structures empowered by ICT. Smart buildings use sensors, meters, systems and software to monitor and control a wide range of building functions – lighting, energy, water, HVAC, communications, video monitoring, intrusion detection, elevator monitoring and fire safety among them.

Why make buildings smarter? In its June 2013 Global Sustainability Perspective, real estate developer Jones Lang LaSalle put it this way: “Advances in smart building technology are enabling a new era in building energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction, yielding a return on investment for building owners with-in one to two years. We can now perform real-time remote monitoring and control of entire portfolios of buildings, leading to dramatic improvements in building performance and meaningful energy savings.”

The city-building connection

In most cities, the built environment is a patchwork of private and city-owned buildings. But even though a city government may own only a small fraction of the buildings, it can hold great sway over all buildings in its jurisdiction. For instance, it can:

Lead by example and ensure that its own buildings adhere to the targets explained in this chapter, unleashing the power of ICT in public buildings.
Create and enforce codes and standards that embody the changes it wants
Create incentives for owners to make their buildings smart.
Educate residents through public awareness and outreach campaigns.
Provide support and guidance by giving access to advise and trained staff via the web, phone, or in person.

The methods cities adopt for driving change in built environments will vary, of course, but leaders pursuing a smart cities agenda will want smart buildings as an action item. So what are the technology and best practices targets that enable a smarter built environment? This chapter will discuss how targets introduced in the Universal chapter apply to the built environment. But first, a quick look at dependencies in the built environment and then the benefits an intelligent built environment provides.

Dependencies within the built environment

Improvements in the built environment will need to be planned with an understanding of dependencies on other city systems and services. If we limit our dependency list to just three other systems for the sake of simplicity, it is easy to see that buildings rely on services from energy, communications and water systems.

The connection is pretty straightforward. Commercial, industrial and residential building systems alike all require electricity and/or natural gas. Building occupants require potable water and wastewater removal. And reliable communications are a requirement today for business and industry as well as residents.

Benefits of realizing the targets

Here are just a few of the ways an intelligent built environment can enhance livability, workability and sustainability.


Improving occupant comfort. With full situational awareness and optimization of building conditions, a smart building can tailor light, heat and cooling to each area or even to each individual. Since most people spend nearly all of their time indoors, improving that environment improves their comfort quotient.

Enhancing occupant safety. ICT can greatly improve safety and security via access cards, video monitoring, fire and smoke alarms and similar means. Full situational awareness means that building operators have a complete picture of their building and its environs, and are able to respond to issues or threats in real-time. In some cases, these systems can even correct problems remotely and automatically.

Improving occupant health. Indoor air can be more polluted than the air outdoors. Smart buildings monitor air conditions to ensure that occupants aren’t exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide, radon, chemicals or other potential health hazards.

Providing convenience and “remote control” capabilities. Who hasn’t left for vacation only to wonder if you remembered to activate the burglar alarm? Thanks to advances in ICT, remote control capabilities can remotely monitor and manage security and energy systems from afar using a computer, tablet or smartphone.


Lowering business utility bills. Smart buildings save on power, water, gas and waste, giving owners and occupants a competitive advantage.

Increasing worker satisfaction. Who doesn’t want to work in a state-of-the-art building where the air is fresh, creature comforts are automated and safety and security are wired in? Businesses located in smart buildings are more attractive to potential employees, which allows them to compete for the best and brightest.


The built environment can make a major contribution to lowering emissions and lowering resource use. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is impossible to meet sustainability goals without using smart technology to improve the built environment. Examples include:

Reducing energy waste. Most buildings can save 10 to 30 percent on energy just by installing an intelligent building management system to manage devices such as occupancy sensors, light dimmers and smart thermostats. There are many other ways a smart building can reduce overall costs too. For instance, buildings with smart meters or smart thermostats can participate in utility demand response programs. By briefly reducing consumption during peak times they allow the utility to make do with fewer expensive standby power plants. (See the Energy chapter for details.) Or a building can employ “thermal storage,” which uses cheap power in the middle of the night to freeze ice. During the day, when power prices are high, it uses the ice to help cool the building.

Reducing water waste. In the same way that ICT helps smart buildings save energy, it helps them save water too. Operational optimization helps smart buildings manage water resources with precise efficiency, eliminating waste and reducing cost for owners and occupants. Sometimes it’s just a matter of better scheduling. For instance, scheduling pumping and irrigation at night when power is cheaper.

Reducing carbon emissions. Smart buildings use less energy and less water–important because water requires large amounts of energy to pump and treat. As a result, carbon and
other greenhouse gas emissions are lower in smart cities.

Reducing the frequency and cost of repairs. Today’s building management systems can monitor key equipment to notice problems as soon as they arrive — or, in some cases, predict problems before they occur. They can prioritize work orders so the maintenance crew always works on the most important problem first. And they can keep equipment fine-tuned so it operates at maximum efficiency.

Enabling distributed generation. Not only can ICT reduce energy waste, but it can also help buildings produce their own energy via on-site solar panels, wind turbines, fuel cells and the like. The distributed generation won’t replace power plants outright. But together with energy storage and demand response, it can reduce the number of peaker power plants. (Peaker plants run only when there is high demand for power and sit idle the rest of the time.) Distributed generation also helps reduce the environmental costs associated with transmitting energy over long distances.

Providing ROI for building owners. Smart buildings are a win for building owners. Operational optimization delivers both cost savings and enhanced value per square foot.

Built environment targets

To this point we’ve defined the built environment, discussed how cities can influence their buildings and highlighted the benefits of smart buildings. We’ll conclude by examining the technologies and best practices that can bring those benefits to your city.

We presume that you’ve already read the Universal chapter, which explains the targets that apply throughout a city. When it comes to the built environment, those universal goals are sufficient – there are no additional building-specific targets.

For convenience, you will see a checklist at the end of the chapter that lists the universal targets. Below we point out refinements to several of them that demonstrate their relevance to the built environment.

Instrumentation and control

Buildings that use smart devices to monitor conditions like energy use, water use, air quality and heat can capture data that building managers can use to make better decisions about managing resources.

Implement optimal instrumentation. You’ll want to keep several things in mind as you determine optimal instrumentation for buildings.

For one thing, don’t think that building instrumentation simply means a smart meter. You can now remotely monitor almost any building condition – occupancy, light level, air quality, temperature, etc.

For another, you will want to distinguish between existing and new buildings. In existing buildings, you want to take full advantage of any sensors or switches that are already present. Fortunately, companies are starting to make software that can talk to legacy equipment from many different manufacturers. It is usually much less expensive to find a software “overseer” than to rip out old instrumentation and replace it with new.

When it comes to new buildings, you can be more ambitious. It is much less costly to put state-of-the-art instrumentation into a new building than to retrofit it into an existing building. Thus, as you plan the city’s building codes and incentives, you can raise the bar for new buildings as compared to old.

This is an area that will require holistic thinking and collaboration between departments and between outside stakeholders. For instance, the electric power utility may want smart meters, thermostats and appliances to adhere to communications protocols. Likewise, the fire department may have requirements for fire alarms and smoke detectors. Obviously, the city’s codes and recommendations should be compatible.


Once you’ve deployed smart sensors and systems in a building, the next step is to allow them to communicate the information they gather.

Connect devices with citywide, multi-service communications. In a few cases, a building’s sensors and systems may communicate directly with the citywide communications system. For instance, a smart meter or a smart thermostat may tie indirectly so it can talk to the electric power utility. In a similar fashion, some utilities talk directly to building load control switches to turn equipment off if the grid is under stress. (The owners get compensation from the utility.)

In most cases, though, the building’s sensors will communicate internally to a building management system. That software then monitors and summarizes that internal data and shares it externally as permitted by building owners.

When it comes to new buildings – and sometimes even for old ones — many forward-thinking building owners are choosing a single, “merged” IP network – one that can carry all traffic, whether data, voice or video.


Interoperability targets ensure that your built environment plays nicely with others. Of the three universal interoperability targets, two require additional discussion.

Adhere to open standards. Building technology must adhere to the same communications standards as all other smart city gear – even when the building industry is a barrier to this smart city goal. And it must also contend with standards unique to the built environment.

When it comes to communicating between the building and the rest of the city, you can rely on the standards set forth in the Telecommunications chapter, notably IPv6. But when it comes to the equipment and the communications within the building, you will have to navigate a maze of options.

The building sector has been slow to adopt open standards. In areas such as internal communications within a building, the sector has several competing “standards,” including BACnet and LonWorks.

In short, you will need a) the help of an expert to make the right choices and b) a firm determination to stay open no matter what inducements are offered to use a proprietary system instead.

Prioritize the use of legacy investments. It bears repeating – cities and building owners should make every effort to tap into existing devices and equipment before retrofitting buildings with new gear. Older devices can often be integrated with building management systems, thereby avoiding unnecessary replacement. Using existing equipment when possible is a wise way to get maximum value from your investments. For example, see the 88 Acres case study linked at the end of this chapter; it explains how Microsoft leveraged legacy investments when it rolled out smart buildings on its campus in Redmond, Washington.

Security and privacy

Of the three universal security and privacy targets, one needs extra discussion.

Publish privacy rules. It’s important to remember that information coming from buildings is often extremely sensitive. Consider occupancy sensors, which could reveal when high-value merchandise is unguarded. Or consider energy usage – should that be shared to help the city analyze its energy efficiency targets? Or consider public buildings that use video surveillance to record comings and goings. In what circumstances can the videos be viewed and by whom? In short, be sure to consider your city’s built environment when planning your citywide privacy policies.

Data management

Our universal data management target deserves emphasis for the built environment.

Create and adhere to citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy. The information that can be gleaned from buildings is invaluable for city goals such as energy efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, economic development, transit planning and land use planning. It is crucial that your built environment initiatives adhere to a careful data architecture so that information can flow seamlessly as needed.

Computing resources

Local governments are typically responsible for many buildings – everything from jails to public swimming pools to sewage treatment facilities to bus barns and city hall itself. Of the four universal targets in this section, two deserve emphasis.

Consider a cloud computing framework. A few years ago, only the biggest buildings could cost-justify a top-of-the-line building management system. And until recently, only a few large property owners could afford a system to oversee a whole portfolio of buildings in different neighborhoods or even different cities.

Today, thanks to cloud computing, these advanced capabilities are affordable and widely available. Cloud computing gives access to:
• High-powered computers
• Sophisticated software
• Expert staff
• 24x7 staffing and monitoring
• Redundant backup
• Advanced security, both cyber and physical

Instead of financing a huge data center and staffing it with specialists, a city can often simply rent all the hardware and software power it needs via the cloud.

Have access to a central GIS. A robust geographic information system (GIS) is invaluable for many city functions related to buildings, including maintenance, public works, parks, building codes, planning and many more. The information you glean about your buildings becomes much more powerful when located on a map.


Below we explain how the four universal analytics targets apply to the built environment.

Achieve full situational awareness. Situational awareness has two aspects in the built environment. The first is awareness of individual buildings (or collections of buildings). Today’s systems can monitor and display every important parameter. They can even be programmed to alert operators when conditions go out of bounds. Building managers can quickly spot problems and dispatch resources to restore functionality. In some cases, problem identification and resolution can be automated, or even predictive, so that problems are resolved before they cause damage.

Achieve operational optimization. The ultimate goal of a smart building is to have everything running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Smart buildings use analytics to ensure that a building’s resource usage is efficient. And with the power of analytics, buildings can optimize their conditions to ensure the continued health, productivity and comfort of occupants.

Achieve asset optimization. Sophisticated asset management software can calculate which buildings should be replaced or repaired and when.

Pursue predictive analytics. Unexpected equipment failures can take a toll on maintenance budgets; so can work stoppages caused by equipment failures. Predictive maintenance uses analytics to predict which building equipment is close to failure so it can be repaired or replaced before it fails.


At its core, a smart city uses advanced technologies to improve livability, workability and sustainability. And the ultimate goal of this Readiness Guide is to help city officials build an understanding of these technologies – and how they fit together – to create ICT-enabled cities of the future. This chapter focuses on the “secret sauce” that turns the idea of a smart city into reality. In a nutshell, we’re talking about people – elected officials, city planners, policymakers, citizens, business leaders, financiers and public-private partnerships.

No matter how integral technology targets are, a smart city vision will never be fully realized if those targets aren’t planned, deployed and managed correctly. That’s why we’ve identified what we’re calling supporting practices for cities to consider as they plot a course towards the future. As you’ll see in the pages ahead, these supporting practices are all dependent on people making smart decisions to get maximum value out of their technology investments.

The three supporting practices we’ll drill down on in this chapter are:

1. Policy and leadership. This includes the management policies and leadership capabilities that cities use to plan for and support ICT investments. For example, ICT will benefit cities, their residents and businesses most when a comprehensive smart city plan has been created.

2. Finance and procurement. These practices help cities buy and pay for the technologies they need. Employing proven techniques can help a city get the right technology, at the right time, at the right price. One example is developing an integrated procurement plan for technology across all city departments.

3. Citizen engagement. This encompasses the outreach, inclusion and cooperation cities need to get the best results from technology investments. Experience has proven that for smart cities to work, citizens must be considered and consulted from day one and at every step along the way. Fortunately, social media and web portals make citizen engagement far easier today.

In the chart below you’ll see supporting practices that will help cities realize the technology targets discussed in previous chapters. Unless otherwise noted, these supporting practices apply to every city responsibility area covered in this Guide. In the Ideas to Action chapter that follows this one, we will explore how cities can enact these policies to best achieve the technology targets and become smart cities.

Policy and leadership supporting practices

Build a comprehensive smart city plan. To borrow from Hollywood, creating a smart city in some ways resembles making a major motion picture. First you need a script with a plot that will capture the imagination and enthusiasm of its intended audience. You need to work with a studio to share resources and with other entities for location shots. You need a talented director, a quality cast and you need lots of extras – all of whom help bring the movie to life – as in lights, camera, action. For cities, the “script” is a comprehensive smart city plan. The studio and locations are shared infrastructure, and the cast and crew represent the smart workforce. Let’s zoom in on these concepts.

The plan, which is continually evaluated and updated much like a movie script during rehearsals, encompasses all work streams in every single responsibility and enabler discussed in this Readiness Guide. The plan organizes city efforts and resources across departments, identifies and articulates city priorities and plans action steps to achieve the targets this Guide recommends.

A comprehensive smart city plan calls for 1) measurable targets for livability, workability and sustainability and 2) timely reports of progress toward those targets. The plan is articulated in ways that citizens and communities (the audience) will understand because they see its connection to their lives.

Arguably this may be the most important piece of the entire Readiness Guide since by definition a comprehensive plan will consider all the other aspects of an ICT-enabled smart city. A comprehensive plan sets the stage by:

• Maximizing synergies and minimizing costs. Considering the big picture can help a city find ways to share infrastructure and share costs – doing away with unnecessary duplication of ICT investments.

• Identifying the best places to start. Picking the “low-hanging fruit” – which are projects that have a big return for a relatively small investment in money and time – often makes most sense. If a city starts with those “big bang” projects, it can build momentum and public support. And it can potentially generate revenue for use on future projects.

• Enabling cities to build separate projects. With a plan in place, you can be confident everything will work together in the end because you’re adhering to principles and standards that ensure interoperability and collaboration. With such a framework a city can move towards its targets one step at a time, knowing that individual projects will be compatible with each other, even if they are built separately at different times.

• Increasing public support. Since a comprehensive plan promotes the future benefits and paints a picture of the future improvements in livability, workability and sustainability, it can dramatically increase public understanding and support. It can also help rally support and financing from the private sector.

• Attracting talent and business. A smart city wants to woo today’s mobile professionals and easy-to-relocate high-tech businesses, but both are increasingly choosy when deciding where to establish themselves. They are attracted to cities that have a strong, compelling vision for a better future and a path to get there, which is what your comprehensive plan lays out.

• Emphasizing the need for change and change management. Smart cities are visionary projects. As with all visionary projects, organizations undertaking them will be most successful if they are good at articulating and fostering change. Comprehensive smart city plans promote “change management” strategies that ensure minimum negative impacts and maximize positive outcomes in their pursuit of the smart city.

Share infrastructure. It doesn’t take someone from the city budget office to see the value in reducing needless duplication and redundant spending. And that’s what can happen when cities recognize interdependencies between departments and the value of cross-coordination. Actively seeking ways to share ICT infrastructure between city departments – and having backup plans in place should problems occur – simply makes sense.

Beyond reducing redundant spending and effort, benefits of sharing infrastructure between departments can:

• Uncover wasteful duplication
• Surface potential synergies and new solution opportunities
• Reduce arguments and friction
• Unearth and enforce best practices citywide

Another big benefit of sharing infrastructure is that a city can improve overall results by bringing multiple minds and multiple viewpoints to the table. Additionally, future expansion and applications are fast-tracked when infrastructure is shared because computing and information assets are no longer stranded in separate “silos.”

In some cases, it may also make sense for a smart city to explore the benefits of sharing its infrastructure with the private sector. For example, this is important when it comes to
broadband and cellular connectivity. Often it is private sector operators who are best suited to deploy and maintain these networks with a high degree of reliability, security and coverage.

Promote a smart city workforce. It is one thing to enable the infrastructure of a smart city, but finding the highly trained workers in both the public and private sector that smart cities will need to operate that infrastructure will be challenging. Skilled ICT workers are currently in high demand. Because of that, policies and programs focused on building the skills necessary to install, maintain and optimize smart city technologies should be a priority.

Many options exist for promoting a smart city workforce, and cities should find those that best fit their own needs and circumstances. For instance, you may choose to:

• Organize or partner with professional groups to identify skills needed

• Promote relevant licensing exams and continuing education curriculums

• Use a ‘sustainable’ designation for professionals

• Publish guidelines or create incentives to include smart technology topics in public and private education and workforce training Besides boosting the skills and competencies of city personnel, an active campaign to train and groom a smart city workforce will provide a competitive advantage to a city in the battle to attract business and jobs.

Consider the full lifecycle of built environments. Built environments progress through several life stages including planning, design, construction, operation, retrofit and end-of-life. Smart cities consider the full lifecycle of their built environments when enacting policies and making decisions relevant to buildings.

This is a key point because it ensures that cities get the most out of ICT deployments in their built environments. By considering the full lifecycle of built environments, cities are able to recycle and reuse data from built environments when planning for their replacements. This can save resources and ensure better outcomes for future building inhabitants.

Build and adhere to a multi-modal transportation plan. Smart cities build a holistic, integrated plan that encompasses all of their existing transport modes as well as those they want to pursue in the future. This integrated and multi-modal plan connects cities’ technology investments in transportation infrastructure to ensure sharing, scalability, connectivity and efficiency. The plan takes into account shifts in population, demand and regional interconnectivity. Cities with an integrated transport authority will find it easier to implement a single, multi-modal transport plan. Those without a single authority will have to build coalitions and create both mandates and incentives for a combined plan.

Pursue the removal of regulatory barriers to telemedicine. The potential for telemedicine to improve access to and the cost-effectiveness of a city’s healthcare system is huge, but unfortunately, regulatory barriers hinder its widespread adoption. Technology is often said to develop more quickly than the laws that govern and affect its use, and telemedicine is proof of that.

Medical licensing, credentialing and malpractice protections often vary from country to country or even state to state, creating artificial barriers to telemedicine. For example, a doctor licensed in Texas with a certain type of radiological expertise may not be able to deliver services to a patient in dire need in Michigan without meeting a series of costly, redundant and time-consuming requirements. Insurance is another factor slowing adoption of telemedicine; the industry is not fully onboard with the concept yet.

The answer may be a united effort by smart cities and smart healthcare proponents to advocate for adoption of telemedicine at local and national levels so that citizens everywhere have access to the future of health delivery sooner rather than later.

Develop a seamless and efficient NFC payment system. Payment systems are a city economy’s backbone: the core component enabling city merchants and public services to receive payments and citizens to circulate, shop, entertain in their everyday lives, benefiting from strong livability solutions. Smart cities create the momentum amongst key innovative payment stakeholders to implement seamless and efficient payment systems. Bringing together merchants, banks, telecom operators and payment instruments’ providers is critical to set up the right model and kick off the roll-out of new and innovative payment solutions. Such systems need to develop consumer and merchant equipment in parallel and city leaders need to avoid falling into a chicken-and-egg situation.

Setting up a citywide public initiative onboarding all key stakeholders and leveraging public services to lead by example is a best practice to consider in order to enable innovations. As
an illustration, in the French city of Nice, the Cityzi initiative successfully teamed the French mobile network operators, the major retail banks, the two international payment schemes and key city merchants to develop mobile payments-related solutions.

Finance and procurement supporting practices

Let’s face it: Implementing smart city technologies in an era when so many cities are budget-strapped is going to be a financial challenge. But it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable one. Cities will need to get creative, though. In this section we’ll discuss how to develop a solid procurement plan and how cities should look beyond traditional funding mechanisms for their technology needs.

Adhere to a disciplined and integrated technology procurement plan. There are two key words here: disciplined and integrated. First, a city’s procurement plan for smart city technologies should include a disciplined business case that identifies and quantifies costs and benefits over the project lifetime. Secondly, all city departments need to be integrated in the procurement plan to ensure economies of scale, best practices, elimination of redundant purchases and interoperability.

It’s also important to think of your procurement plan as a living document, one that includes (and regularly updates) a technology roadmap that identifies the optimal sequence of investments and implementations. Of course, cities should start with whatever project they want and be flexible about taking on new projects and changing plans as needed. The important thing is that smart city projects are deployed so that they work together.

Your procurement plan should favor interchangeable hardware and software from diverse vendors to stimulate innovation and competition and to allow for interoperable systems. The plan should also establish selection criteria that go beyond just the “lowest price.” It prioritizes for solutions that are the:

• Least prone to obsolescence
• Most easily expanded to meet future needs
• Most resilient
• Most cost-effective
• Easiest to install and use
• Most relevant to addressing the objective

Adhering to a disciplined procurement plan can dramatically decrease overall costs. It can also greatly extend the life and value of the technologies purchased because the plan will include provisions to ensure interoperability and open standards.

Consider all funding mechanisms. Too often cities consider only a single “traditional” method to finance the technology it needs. In some regions, that method may be funding from the central government. In other parts of the world, it may be municipal bonds. But in an era when so many municipal budgets are already strained, you’ll need to explore the widest possible range of funding mechanisms. And the results may surprise you.

There are dozens of different ways to finance infrastructure. Among them:

• Public/private partnerships
• Performance contracting
• Philanthropic grants
• Development bank loans
• Pay-as-you-go
• Sale/leaseback
• Revolving funds
• Grant funding including refurbishment subsidies
• Guarantee schemes
• Utility incentives
• On-bill repayment through local utilities
• Local incentives and credit programs
• Reduced permitting time
• Density bonuses
• Pay-for-performance

To increase bargaining power, cities should also consider joint procurements and buying coalitions with other cities, states, regions, federal agencies and the military. By considering all financing options, a city may be able to afford smart city improvements years earlier than more traditional means might allow. The sooner installed, the sooner the city will realize the payback.

Citizen engagement supporting practices

Anyone who has run for public office understands that you don’t win if you don’t get enough people to support you. The same formula applies to a smart cities campaign. Your best chance for success is to win the support of the people who live and work in your city. Citizens are the priority stakeholder in a smart city and so much of a smart city is achievable only when citizens have bought into the vision actively and willingly. In this section we highlight two ways to make that happen.

Continuously pursue two-way communication with citizens on strategies for and benefits of ICT before and during their deployment. To develop a smart city that captures the interest and enthusiasm of the people who live in it, encourage them to help create the vision. Hold public meetings, organize neighborhood brainstorming sessions, try crowdsourcing, solicit ideas via social media or mobile apps – and take every opportunity along the way to inform and educate them on the exciting ways ICT technologies will transform their city and their lives for the better.

Maintaining this ongoing, two-way dialog between your city and its citizens will only improve the outcome. For example, citizens who are educated about smart water and energy meters are more likely to use them correctly. Citizens who are aware of mobile apps for reporting a pothole or ordering a city service are more apt to take advantage of them.

Being proactive about getting citizens involved not only brings in a broader perspective and builds trust, but it can also reduce potentially derailing opposition to technology implementation. For example, by understanding and addressing your city’s most immediate problems through technology, you will build trust necessary to pursue longer-term projects in the future. Incredibly, some research even indicates that active two-way communication reduces tax delinquency, since citizens are more willing to pay when they believe their concerns are taken into account by government.

Offer an integrated, personalized citizen portal for services. We’ve talked about how important it is for citizens to be involved in the pursuit and realization of a smart city. That’s why it’s crucial that cities create an integrated, comprehensive online portal for people to access their smart city services.

Today websites and mobile applications can recognize individual citizens and deliver personally tailored information to them. Such digital interactions with citizens allow smart cities to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness at the same time they heighten citizen satisfaction.

Until recently, it was far too expensive to personalize service for each resident. Today, however, the technology exists to personalize virtually every interaction. In the Web 1.0 world, governmental cyber services typically meant a series of websites. Those sites were typically designed from the point of view of the government. It was up to the citizens to navigate their way around to find what they needed, a chore that was often time-consuming and frustrating.

Now we have the ability to create personalized customer portals and personalized outbound messages. More and more citizens are coming to expect personalization, since they receive it in so many other parts of their lives. And when these portals are designed with mobile in mind, it helps people capitalize on the timeliness of their personalized data

Personalized cyber services increase citizen satisfaction and compliance while reducing mistakes and misunderstandings that can occur when they are forced to dig up information on their own.

Finally, as unified, single-window views of services are made available to citizens through personalized portals, it is important that cities ensure that the same care goes into giving city workers the proper tools to be responsive.

Disseminate timely information about public safety, public health, transportation and other services that impact the public. Smart cities can get more mileage out of their ICT investments when they use the information provided via instrumentation and analytics to inform the public about issues and events that could impact their lives and livelihoods.
Publishing interactive crime maps is one example; sending alerts via social media when air pollution reaches a worrisome level is another; encouraging creation of apps that provide results of restaurant inspections or traffic updates is also useful.


In this chapter, you’ll learn how a simple road mapping process can put you on the path to a smart city. We’ve hinted at this next point before, but now we’re just going to say it: Technology is the easy part. The hard part is turning ideas into action. Fortunately, help is at hand from those who have gone before. In reviewing hundreds of successful pilots and interviewing dozens of experts, several themes have emerged, which we have shared on the pages that follow.

If you’ve completed the other chapters in this Guide, you now have a set of targets to guide your smart city efforts. But you don’t yet know where to apply those principles first or how to translate those concepts into on-the-ground real – ities. In these next pages, we’ll explain how a roadmap can be the bridge between ideas and action. We’ll cover:

• The importance of a roadmap

• The elements of a roadmap

• The process of building a roadmap

• Success strategies for a roadmap.

Please note that the Smart Cities Council does NOT believe in roadmaps in isolation. Rather, the roadmap should be linked to a city’s vision docu – ment or comprehensive plan. We believe whole – heartedly in digital technology. But that technolo – gy should be in service to a city’s larger goals.

The importance of a roadmap

Why a roadmap? The path to a smart city is a long one. It can easily take 5, 10, even 15 years to make smart technologies pervasive. It is essential to have a clear, consensus goal to motivate citizens. And clear targets to guide the course corrections that will be needed along the way. As we use the term in this Guide, a roadmap is a simplified outline of the major steps to becom – ing a smart city. It is NOT a vision document or a master plan or a detailed project plan. Those other things come into play, but you also need a high-level, “30,000-foot view” of your future. As experts point out, academics think about the “why” of smart cities while technology companies focus on the “what.” Yet you also need to figure out the “how”… and that’s where a road – map comes in.

Overcoming smart city hurdles A roadmap can help you overcome obstacles to a smart city transformation. One such hurdle is human nature. People are naturally resistant to change. Yet we live in an era where change is constant. As a result, an entire management science has arisen around “change manage – ment” – around successfully transitioning companies to a desired future state.

Cities face a similar challenge… but they can’t simply order residents to attend a change management seminar. Nor can they fire the ones who won’t go along. Instead, the city government must influence and inspire the population. A roadmap is a powerful tool in that effort.

Effecting change is made even more difficult by the stove-piped nature of most city govern – ments. For at least the last 100 years, cities have been divided into departments, each with its own specialty and each with a high degree of autonomy. Although it’s not necessary to abolish departments to become a smart city, it is necessary for those departments to collaborate more effectively and to share resources. As you will read below, the roadmapping effort is a “forcing function” that obliges departments to work together.

Becoming a smart city is further compounded by overlapping boundaries. Urban challenges – crime, transportation, water supply, economic development, etc. – don’t stop neatly at city borders. Jurisdictions overlap as well. Many metropolitan regions have dozens of cities and townships within their sphere. They also embrace hundreds of school districts, water districts, transit authorities, port authorities, human services agencies and other organizations. Consider the Greater Chicago metropolis by way of example. It crosses 14 counties in three states and contains approximately 350 municipalities, 350 school districts and 140 library districts.

Meanwhile, cities are also subject to rules and regulations from federal agencies, state or provincial governments, county or parish governments, public utility commissions and so on. And, to top it off, cities must contend with myriad advocacy groups, special interest groups, neighborhood associations, business associations and other groups whose agendas can sometimes be at cross purposes. The United States provides an example. By one count, it has roughly 20,000 municipal governments, 13,000 school districts and 37,381 special authorities.

As Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Katz explained in 2011, “an excess of municipal governments (and the general absence of metropolitan governments) means that there is no ‘one stop shop’ for the application of innovative technologies. The public institutions that make decisions about transport are different from the ones that make decisions about education or water. These separate entities rarely coordinate with each other to integrate technology (and share information) between themselves or with utilities and other private or quasi public entities.”

Done right, roadmapping is a process that involves and pulls together these disparate groups.

Other road mapping benefits
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, a smart city roadmap has these additional benefits:

• Maximizing synergies and minimizing costs. Considering the big picture can help a city find ways to share infrastructure and share costs – doing away with unnecessary duplication of ICT investments.

• Identifying the best places to start. Picking the “low-hanging fruit” – projects that have a big return for a relatively small investment in money and time – usually makes sense. If a city starts with quick, “big bang” projects, it can build momentum and public support. It can also help pay for future projects with savings from the early ones.

• Enabling cities to build in stages. With a plan in place, you can be confident everything will work together in the end because you’re adhering to principles and standards that ensure interoperability and collaboration. With such a framework, a city can move forward one step at a time, knowing that individual projects will be compatible with each
other, even if they are built at different times.

• Increasing public support. A roadmap paints a picture of future improvements in livability, workability and sustainability. It can dramatically increase public understanding and cooperation. It can also rally support and financing from the private sector.

• Attracting talent and business. Cities everywhere want to woo talented professionals and job-creating businesses, but both are increasingly choosy when deciding where to establish
themselves. They are attracted to cities that have a strong, compelling vision for a better future and a path to get there. Your roadmap, in other words, is also a recruiting tool.

Project plans– “blueprints” for the most important components of the smart city. Possibilities include master plans for land use and the built environment; for digital infrastructure (communications and computing resources); for data; for transportation; for business and commerce, and for city services. These plans are also helpful for creating visibility around smart city drivers.

Milestones– waypoints at which you measure progress, share lessons learned and discuss course corrections and strengthen commitment. For instance, Vancouver has annual implementation updates. (Click to view an overview of Vancouver’s 2011-2012 Implementation Update.) It also holds an annual Vancouver Cities Summit, a discussion platform for business and urban leaders to exchange ideas and best practices. And it issues periodic updates in various media to keep citizens informed and enthused (see Figure 13.4)

Your residents can be a valuable tool in the measurement process. Social media can help you reach out to them to see how technology adoption is progressing, further connecting
government and people.

Metrics– key performance indicators that quantify success. Examples include carbon footprint, average commute time, percentage of citizens with broadband, energy efficiency achieve ments, water efficiency achievements, new businesses formed, patents filed, students graduated, doctors and hospital beds per capita, percentage of city services available online, etc. In some cases, it is possible to choose metrics that also let you calculate your return on investment.

Installing metrics early in your smart city efforts can ensure transparency and improve citizen buy-in. Vancouver’s action plan has a list of very specific targets. For instance, it seeks to double the number of green jobs from 2010 to 2020, and double the number of companies who have “greened” their operations. It seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent over 2007 levels. It has similar easy-to-measure targets for all 10 of its sub-components.

The process of building a roadmap There’s no “standard” way to create a smart city roadmap. Below we’ve suggested one approach that combines advice from many experts. It includes six steps:
1. Find a champion
2. Assemble a team
3. Borrow from the larger vision
4. Establish metrics
5. Prioritize your targets
6. Use experts to produce specific plans

Find a champion

The best roadmapping strategy is to involve all important stakeholder groups. Even so, the effort is unlikely to succeed without a champion. Typically this is the mayor or city manager. But some successful efforts have been led by private developers, civic groups, local universities, city council members or other prominent individuals.

The champion’s job is to sell the overall vision to city employees and city residents, and to the financial and technical partners the city must recruit. The job requires energy and salesmanship throughout the life of the project. Most experts call for a strong external leader – typically an elected official – teamed with a strong internal advocate – typically someone in a staff position who can lead the day-to-day activities.

Assemble a team
When you assemble your team, you will be balancing two needs. On the one hand, you need expertise from many different areas, which suggests a large team. On the other hand, you need to be fast and efficient, which argues for a small team. Some experts feel the ideal situation is a small group at the core that meets on a regular basis with a much larger group of experts and stakeholders. a regular basis with a much larger
group of experts and stakeholders.

Many practitioners suggest that cities start by setting up an interdepartmental task force. Since a smart city is a “system of systems,” every decision taken in one area has an impact on others. It is essential to take a cross-functional approach. Some cities bring in a representative from every major department. Others form a core team and consult with other departments as needed. The planning and ICT departments are almost always involved. It’s also common for the mayor to lead the task force or to designate a senior staffer.

The task force must have the authority to demand cooperation. Equally important, it should have oversight of departmental projects, at least to the extent of ensuring that those projects adhere to established standards. Even if departmental infrastructure will not be interconnected immediately, you want the ability to do so when the time is right. And that requires that departments adhere carefully to standards for interoperability, security, privacy, data management, etc.

Many cities will move from an outside task force to an inside smart city department that will, in some ways, resemble today’s well-accepted ICT departments. Like ICT, the smart city department will have cross-cutting responsibilities. Unlike ICT, however, it will not have specialization as its goal. Rather, its role will be one of coordination, setting overall standards and ensuring that 1) all departments have a common smart city platform to build upon and 2) all individual projects are coordinated with the larger smart
city vision.

Some cities put external stakeholders on the task force. However, the most common method is to use city employees and paid consultants for the working team, then to hold meetings to gather input from important stakeholder groups. Some cities own and operate most services – transportation, electric power, water, telecommunications, etc. In other cases,
the private sector provides all or most of those services, with the city government providing boundaries and oversight. Cities that do not control their own infrastructure must consult closely with the electric, gas and water utilities that service their territory.

Skilled smart city suppliers can also be a resource at this stage, especially those experienced in master planning and systems integration. Even if the city does not hire them immediately, they can provide directional guidance and recommendations based on their experience helping many different cities.

Although the Smart Cities Council does not do consulting for pay, it does work with selected Spotlight Cities in the early stages of their planning. The Council advises those cities in their use of the Readiness Guide. And it assembles ad hoc teams of experts for brief “mentoring” sessions to get cities “unstuck.”

Borrow from the larger vision
We’ve emphasized that a smart city roadmap should be in service to larger community goals. Many cities maintain 10- or 20-year plans that are updated regularly. Others have vision documents, typically around goals for sustainability or economic development. And most large private developments have a master plan that has given careful consideration to the region’s strengths, needs and cultural preferences.

Many cities also have plans for particular neighborhoods, such as ecodistrict plans or revitalization plans. For instance, the Loop Media Hub Ecodistrict, led by Council advisor David Sandel is a St. Louis community initiative. It hopes to accelerate economic growth by providing one gigabit (1000 megabits) of Internet access to each building along the city’s Loop Trolley right-of-way.

Your smart city roadmap should draw from these plans to establish your goals, priorities and metrics. Smart technology should be the means to an end. So first you need to determine what that end should look like. Every city has a unique mix of strengths, challenges and cultural preferences. Thus, every city will have different goals. Is your economy based on manufacturing? On tourism? On high-tech services? Every city should tailor its roadmap to buttress its strengths and compensate for its challenges.

For instance, cities emphasizing a lower carbon footprint (as with the Vancouver, B.C. example featured earlier) might prioritize projects that impact emissions, such as smart grid, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. Cities aiming to become high-tech hubs might emphasize such things as broadband connections and mass transit.

If your city has no long-term plans, even for individual districts, then you may want to include a visioning exercise as an early step in your road mapping process.

Establish metrics
At this point, you have a team in place and you have broad goals pulled from your city’s longterm vision.

A valuable next step is to establish metrics to measure progress towards those goals. A comprehensive smart city roadmap should have 1) measurable goals for livability, workability and sustainability and 2) timely reports of progress toward those objectives.

Some of those metrics will be “inward-looking” as a way for the city government to monitor its own performance. But we urge you to include metrics that speak directly to citizens and their quality of life.

Elsewhere in this chapter and in the appendix, you will find examples of city plans and metrics to study for ideas. You may also want to consult published “city indicators.” Examples include the Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF), Mercer Quality of Living Survey, the USGBC LEED for Neighborhood
Development and the Circles of Sustainability Urban Profile from the UN Global Compact Cities Programme.

Prioritize your targets
With your vision and your metrics in place, you are ready to prioritize the targets you developed in earlier chapters to achieve those goals. We have placed a summary checklist at the end of this chapter. Use it to consolidate the work from the previous chapters and determine which targets to emphasize first.

How do you choose your priorities? These four steps will help: 1. Start with the fundamentals
2. Consider overall goals
3. Bolster your weak spots
4. Seek out quick paybacks

Each of these four steps will screen out some of the possibilities. If you apply these filters in order, you’ll end up with a much shorter list of possible first projects.

Start with the fundamentals. Certain targets are so essential that every city should put them in place at the beginning. Or, at the very least, get started on them right away, even if they also do other projects in parallel. Review the five targets below to see if your city is missing any of these basics:

• Citywide multi-service communications
• Adhere to open standards
• Publish privacy rules
• Create a security framework
• Create a citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy

These five targets have the most profound effect on a city’s ability to transform itself. Put another way, these five targets are the ones that will get you in the most trouble if you fail to get them right. Imagine, for example, leaving each individual department to figure out cybersecurity on its own. Some departments may have access to specialized expertise in-house or via consultants. But others are likely to fail at this challenging task, putting the entire city at risk.

Reminder: You don’t have to build all of these things yourself, but you must ensure that they are in place. In some cases, the private sector may step up. (Many cities already have citywide communications in place, for instance.) In other cases, you may be able to borrow ideas from cities that have gone before rather than start from scratch. (You can already find several solid privacy frameworks, for instance.) In other cases, your city may have un- or under-utilized assets that can be put into service. For instance, many cities have unused “dark fiber” – fiber optic cables that were installed but never put into service– that can be used for citywide communications.

Consider overall goals. Once you’re comfortable that you have the fundamentals in play, filter your possible projects against your city’s overall goals. As explained earlier, look to broader city vision documents and plans that set out longterm goals. Your smart city roadmap should prioritize projects that make progress against those objectives.

If your plan calls for the expansion of tourism for instance, you’ll want to prioritize projects that contribute to that objective. If your long-term plan calls for you to accommodate a large influx of new residents, you should emphasize
projects that help you answer that imperative.

Bolster your weak spots. If you still have too many possibilities, you can narrow your choices by looking for projects that shore up your weak spots. The checklists in each chapter (and the summary checklist at the end of this chapter), contain a column to note where you are weak or strong.

Seek out quick paybacks. Finally, if you still have more candidates than you can tackle, look for easy wins. Give preference to projects that can be completed quickly and that have a rapid return on investment. Time and again, we hear from smart city experts that it is essential to demonstrate success early. For your long-term smart city transformation to succeed, you must have some early, short-term wins. These early successes will build enthusiasm and momentum. And, done right, they will create value streams that can help to pay for future projects. For instance, Council member Grid20/20 produces distribution transformer monitors.

With the help of those monitors, utilities can (among other things) easily spot power that is being lost to theft. Depending on the part of the world, energy theft can suck away 5 to 35 percent of the total power. Thus, a monitoring solution from Grid20/20 can often pay for itself in a year or two, freeing up money to apply to other projects.

Smart water networks. Council member Itron estimates that 30 percent of all the water pumped worldwide does not reach its destination. A smart water network can pinpoint leaks and theft, gaining a quick payback in regions where water is scarce and costly.

Smart street lights. A confluence of several factors makes smart street lighting an excellent prospect for a first project. First, the latest generation of LED lighting makes possible big
savings in energy costs. Second, the same LEDs that save energy also save on “truck rolls.” They last much longer, so maintenance crews don’t have to spend as much time replacing lamps. Third, by networking the street lights – adding communications to each one – you make possible numerous smart applications, including remote diagnostics and control. Fourth, once you have a “canopy network” in place for street lights (and paid for by the savings in energy and maintenance), you can use that network for other smart city applications. After all, street lights already have power, already exist throughout the city and already sit up high – the perfect places to play host to a citywide network.

Public safety. Smart policing can have a dramatic impact on crime rates and public confidence. By feeding current and past crime statistics into analytical programs, cities can predict where crime is most likely to occur. And by equipping officers with cameras, laptops, tablets or smartphones, they can reduce the time spent on bureaucratic paperwork and increase the time on patrol.

Digital government services. You can often get a quick win by converting a government service from “manual” operation to a more convenient online or smartphone version. Done well, such projects can save money for the city while simultaneously improving citizen satisfaction (no more standing in line). There are dozens if not hundreds of possibilities, including licenses, permits, registration for social services, purchase of fare cards, reporting potholes and many, many more.

Setting up simple e-government apps can be a matter of months or even weeks. For instance, Council advisor Living Labs Global has founded a website called where you can browse for smart city apps from more than 1,000 suppliers around the world. And in early 2014, the Council launched its Smart Cities Apps Gallery to showcase apps being developed by and for cities around the world.

Smart payments: Payback from smarter payments can be quick – and significant. Cash and other physical means of payments are generating huge costs for city administrations, as well as being very risky and needing secured transfers. By digitalizing all disbursements and collections, a city can generate significant savings and increase its operational efficiency. For example, by switching city service benefits from direct deposits and check cashing services to a prepaid card, the city of Toronto generated huge savings for both social assistance recipients and the city. Public estimates claim that more than $250 a year can be saved for a single client receiving $600 a month, and the city itself expects net savings of at least $2.5 million annually by eliminating the cost of issuing checks. This program was rolled out in less than a year.

Use experts to produce a specific plan(s). At this stage, you have a prioritized list of targets plus ideas for your first projects. You may even have a cross-departmental implementation calendar that looks several years ahead. If you are not already consulting with experts, now is the time to bring them on board. Their job will be to produce specific, detailed project plans and engineering specifications. (If you are building a district or city from scratch, then the experts’ job will be to produce a master plan.) Finding the right experts is an important task. They must have a holistic, big-picture outlook to help your city find cross-departmental synergies. But they must also have access to specialized knowledge to produce detailed technical specifications. Ideally, they will also have experience in smart city projects.

“Outsourcing” all or part of your project implementation can have important benefits. First, few city employees will have up-to-the minute technical skills to ensure that the city is getting state-of-the-art solutions. Second, few city employees have the time to take on such a complicated extra job. Smart city projects demand focused effort. Most city employees – and most city leaders – are focused on too many initiatives to truly drive the smart city charge, even if they have the technology skills. Outsourcing allows for a passionate focus on the project. And outsourcing can survive and bridge a change in government if elections or appointments occur in the middle of the project.

Where do you find such experts? Many cities have had success in working with regional universities. Many cities bring in consulting firms to administer the overall process, trusting those consultants to bring in other specialists as needed. And many cities have found success working directly with experienced smart city suppliers like the Council members listed in this Guide’s appendix. The suppliers in the appendix have demonstrated exceptional smart city capabilities. They have collectively worked on thousands of projects that relate to smart cities. They know what works in real life, what problems are likely to occur, and which technologies are truly ready for prime time. It is no exaggeration to say that the represent the planet’s very best smart city suppliers.

And they’ve also demonstrated a vitally important characteristic – the willingness and ability to collaborate with others. No single company can create the totality of a smart city. It takes a small army of specialists to build out the “system of complex systems” that is a smart city. Membership in the Smart Cities Council signals a firm’s commitment to collaborating with other companies to produce the best possible solutions.

Success strategies for a roadmap

Much of this Guide gives advice with a technical flavor. However, when it comes to building a compelling and effective roadmap, the most important advice pulls from common sense.
Cities should:
• Think big… but start small
• Work together… but move fast
• Emphasize synergies and interdependencies
• Borrow from the best
• Harvest good ideas

Think big… Earlier we said that a smart city roadmap should be subservient to a city’s long-term vision. Don’t hold back when setting those long-term goals. Be bold. Aim high. With the help of digital technology and willing citizens, virtually any city can achieve a greater level of health, happiness and prosperity. Yes, it will take longer for some cities. But the beauty of the digital revolution is that it offers hope to all, regardless of location. Indeed, in some cases digital technology allows cities in emerging economies to leapfrog cities from the developed world. Since they have much smaller investments in legacy infrastructure, they can jump straight to the better technologies now available.

… but start small. With your grand plan in place, start small at first. Pick a project that has a small upfront investment, a quick turnaround and a rapid payback. Ideally, this first target will be a consensus priority – something that is near the top of the list for all of the key stakeholder groups. Invest in one or a
few select projects with the biggest and fastest payback. On the financial side, this allows you to apply the savings from the first project(s) to finance the next one(s). On the public relations front, it allows you to get an early win that builds support and momentum.

Starting small can also mean taking a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach. Many cities start their smart city journey by designating one area for a pilot project. Districts –
neighborhoods, if you prefer – are small enough but big enough too. They are small enough to be manageable and nimble. But they are big enough to have a critical mass of constituents and to gain some economies o scale. And they are small enough to innovate quickly but big enough to have a meaningful impact.

If the neighborhood approach is not right for your city, you might look for other selfcontained environments such as industrial parks, campuses, leisure complexes, transport hubs, etc.

Work together… Time and again, we hear that collaboration is key to successful smart city projects. “When it comes to achieving the high-tech, sustainable, and smart cities of the future, there is one word that sums up the pathway to success: partnership,” explained Terry Kirby in The Guardian in May 2013. Kirby and other observers say those partnerships should include (at a minimum) local governments, local utilities, local universities, local business groups, local developers and property owners and relevant advocacy groups (such as those that promote sustainability).

Smart city pioneers agree that collaboration is key – and that it can be surprisingly hard to achieve given the “stove-piped” structure of many city governments and the sometimes adversarial relationship between the public and private sectors. First, city governments need to get better at collaborating internally after decades of working in departments with strict boundaries. Second, cities need to get better at collaborating with business and with the public.

Gartner analyst Andrea Di Maio argued in 2012 that “technology is mostly irrelevant unless policymakers, city managers, heads of department and city CIOs get the fundamentals right. What really matters is how different sectors cooperate and how they can exchange meaningful information. Of course there is technology involved, but that’s not enough to make cities smart.

Cooperation requires solid governance and a roadmap that is respectful of 1) the different – and potential diverging – business objectives and timeframes of different stakeholders and 2) the inevitable resource constraints.”

… but move fast. Those who hesitate may not be lost, but they will be passed by. As part of your planning, identify “hot spots” or priorities to enable a quick start on the journey to becoming smarter. For one thing, cities are in constant competition with each other to attract business, talent and creative types. Cities need to begin their smart city journey soon, or they will forever be playing catch-up to their rivals.

In addition, starting fast with an easy win can help with the political realities. Many elected officials operate on a relatively short horizon. Yes, they may have long-term goals for their cities. But they must operate within the constraints of frequent elections. They must show short-term progress along the way if they hope to be re-elected.

Emphasize synergies and interdependencies.
Done well, your roadmap will consider the totality of the city, not just one or two important departments. In the beginning and at every progress review you should be looking for interdepartmental synergies.

If, for example, you target water alone, you will fail to capture the interdependencies with other departments such as energy. For instance, pumping water for irrigation and human consumption can represent 20 percent of a city’s overall energy budget. Often a city can slash its energy bill just by shifting pumping to off-peak hours when there is less demand on the power grid. Likewise, the same communications system that carries messages for smart water meters can often handle
smart electric meters as well, doing away with the expense of a second network. These kinds of synergies and savings don’t show up when systems are studied in isolation.

In previous chapters, we’ve highlighted the interdependencies between different responsibilities. For instance, the built environment relies heavily on services from energy, telecommunications and water systems. Likewise, public safety relies heavily on services from telecommunications, energy and transportation.

The roadmapping phase is when you put the theories of synergy and interdependency into practice. All the more reason to work together – to construct a task force that gets input from all the departments.

Borrow from the best. Study those who’ve gone before. It’s smart to learn from your mistakes. It’s even smarter to learn from the mistakes of others. And it’s smartest of all to learn from the successes of others. Hundreds of cities have embarked on smart city initiatives big and small, so there’s no need to invent your smart city plan from scratch. Study their roadmaps and plans (most are public documents).

Harvest good ideas wherever you find them. You’ll find links to several smart city plans and related tools in the appendix of this Guide. The Smart Cities Council website can also help. You’ll find success stories in the examples and case studies section. And you’ll find advice on building plans in the visioning and road mapping tools section.

Now you’re ready to get started. It will be hard work, but it will also be rewarding. The roadmap you create will be the jumping-off point for a better city for current residents and the
generations that follow.

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