Smart Cities: Transformation requires a holistic approach

Paolo Collela

Would you not agree that it makes more sense to compare cities than nations? To compare New Delhi to New York rather than India to the US? Cities could share more similar traits compared to countries; these usually have higher GDP, see introduction and rollout of technologies first, and often are more efficient. We are ushering in an era where economic and political importance of cities are growing swiftly.

Today, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and urban concentration is accelerating. Such rapid urbanisation boosts the global influence of cities, elevating them above nations as significant incubators of innovation, enterprise and social progress. And this calls for development of smart and sustainable cities. As 4G/ 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data technologies become widespread, potential for ICT to solve the problems of cities will grow immensely.

Creating smart and sustainable cities

Although converting our cities into creative, connected and sustainable ones is a daunting task, it also presents a huge opportunity to improve the lives of billions of people. It has been proven that ICT maturity strongly correlates to both productivity and economic competitiveness of a city. Even though cities are getting smarter, with ICT being deployed to address a variety of common issues, a smart city is not necessarily sustainable. Transformation to a smart sustainable city requires a holistic approach that encompasses long-term planning, partnership and engagement.

There are a few critical considerations necessary for successful transformation. For example, as with any form of planning, before defining what is needed to achieve the vision, the stakeholders need to analyse their current situation, benchmarking both their level of ICT maturity and the sustainability of their current state of development.

As per the Ericsson Networked Society City Index, Delhi started at a low level and ranks at number 36 in ICT maturity, but it is progressing in all ICT dimensions of the index: infrastructure, affordability, and usage.

A better life 

Collaboration, digitalisation, automation, IoT, and virtualisation are some key concepts that come with the continued development of ICT. Smart cities—be it smart grids, public safety or intelligent transportation—rely on these ICT concepts. Companies such as Ericsson help public safety and security authorities leverage the power of new technological solutions in order to transform and enhance the services they provide to their citizens and governments.

The future

Future cities will overturn old models and create new possibilities. It will require a new logic across industries, as production becomes decentralised; sharing becomes the norm; and data, connected things and platforms become valuable resources in their own right. Ultimately, a new type of economic system will emerge in which value is measured beyond financial terms.

Paolo Colella, is the head of India Region, Ericsson

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