Cities are getting smarter, with technological solutions being deployed to address a variety of common issues. But a smart city is not necessarily sustainable. Five critical considerations are necessary for successful transformation into a smart, sustainable city.

There are already more people living in cities than in rural areas, and the United Nations estimates that by 2050 almost 70 percent of the world's population will be city dwellers. With the right foundations, cities can put themselves on the path to ROI not only in traditional financial terms, but also in the so-called triple-bottom-line dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

However, smart, sustainable city transformations are complex and difficult, requiring a holistic approach that encompasses long-term planning, partnership and engagement. To ensure the best chance of success, those shaping the future of cities must lay a solid foundation for transformation, based on five critical considerations:

  1. Define an agreed vision, strategy and targets
  2. Create informed networked governance structures
  3. Develop organizational capacity
  4. Engage with all relevant stakeholders
  5. Forge and foster long-term partnerships.

Forming strong partnerships with ICT companies and NGOs with a global presence and high levels of expertise – particularly in systems integration – can enable cities to accelerate their transformation journey. However, partners must have the scale and capacity to drive long-term projects, as well as the broad range of skills and expertise required to work across all layers in the value chain of a smart, sustainable city.

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