Cities are phenomenal hubs of innovation and culture. They are large enough that big projects can be tested out and small enough that they can have strong local cultures and preferences toward change–including toward technological change. For some cities, becoming smart cities is a natural extension of their identities and capabilities. But it is possible with some simple assessment for any city to lead the way for smart cities.

Smart Cities Know Their Citizens Needs

The civilization and services that cities provide help meet our basic needs as humans. And cities provide for those needs in unique ways that aren’t necessary in more rural environments. Cities provide us with clean water and sewage removal through water and sewage systems. In rural settings these services are usually performed locally through wells and septic systems. Cities also provide waste removal and help regulate pollution. Cities provide a central place for us to engage with one another and the safety needed to allow that kind of congregating.

Each of these services is possible because of some basic technology. Pipes route water and sewage. Safety is provided through advanced communications technology, powerful vehicles, robust weapons and defensive armor, and community outreach programs. Over the years, the supporting services have refined and adjusted to the needs of services.

smart city

How to Take the Next Step

The key for cities and their elected and appointed stewards to take the next step is to identify the pain points in each of these areas. The pain points are often a result of inefficiencies, too little data, or outdated practices. But the first step is identification.

Some issues will be able to be solved with technology. Some problems will need to be solved with better, more caring, and more genuine relationships. These are people problems and inherent whenever we work together. The second step is binning these problems appropriately. Some of course will be a combination of the two, but understanding these two perspectives will simplify framing the issues.

For both technology and people issues, more information helps. Information sheds light on the matter and helps reveal its core. For many of the city services, sensor data (i.e., the IoT) can provide the data that will lead to the information needed. For many of the people issues the solutions will be a combination of relationships and interaction and quantitative data collection. In any case, any city can implement these simple, but effective, steps toward becoming smart cities.

Download our Smart City Case Study, to learn more.