Report – Maximising the Smart Cities Opportunity: Recommendations for Asia-Pacific policymakers
Asian cities are facing pressing and complex challenges: reducing pollution and mitigating the consequences of climate change, efficiently managing economic resources, and improving the quality of life of citizens. This report, published by the GSMA, identifies seven key recommendations for municipalities looking to implement smart city solutions.
Internet of Things technologies and smart city applications can generate substantial socio-economic benefits for citizens and businesses in Asia. Policymakers should make the most of this opportunity, by designing and implementing smart city projects with a long-term vision, that are defined around citizens’ needs, are managed through agile governance structures, are based on open and scalable systems and promote a culture of openness, innovation, and transparency.
- Adopt an agile institutional framework and governance mechanisms: A smart city needs an institutional framework that ensures coordination and support throughout the lifetime of each project. The smart city agency will have to be agile and, ideally, independent from traditional city departments. It should, however, be accountable to a governance body on which the city institutions are represented.
- Appoint a CIO/smart city director with strategic vision: A strong vision and strategy is key to the success of smart city projects. A CIO/smart city director should be a project leader with cross-functional skills, capable of defining a long-term strategy. Rather than focusing on technology solutions, they will understand and analyse the city’s needs and requirements. They will require appropriate authority to act efficiently, will have concrete objectives, and will be capable of bringing along those departments resisting innovation and change.
- Communicate effectively smart city project objectives and benefits: Establishing a dialogue with the local community is essential to ensure effective smart city services design and functionality. Digital media can help involve citizens in each step of the service lifetime and highlight tangible benefits that a smart city project will deliver.
- Promote technology investment in open and scalable systems: A smart city should avoid relying on proprietary technologies tied to a single provider. Standards-based solutions are an essential foundation for the long-term evolution of a smart city. A city administration needs to think strategically and identify synergies: a new smart lighting system can be an opportunity to deploy additional services that use the same light poles, such as air pollution monitoring, the provision of Wi-Fi or security cameras.
- Comply with privacy and security best practice, rather than defining new service-specific rules: To safeguard privacy and security, smart cities need to draw on industry best practice and comply with national laws. Having worked extensively in these areas, the GSMA makes available privacy tools, security guidelines and check lists to policymakers and industry players. Local city managers should resist the temptation to define their own data privacy and security standards for services they launch and adopt in their own city.
- Make city data available to promote transparency and stimulate innovation: Cities generate a wealth of data related to transport, to the environment, health, demographics, and services accessibility. While protecting individuals’ privacy, city managers should look to make data accessible to promote transparency and stimulate the creation of innovative services. Some cities already have portals that make data available in accessible formats.
- Explore new models of funding: Smart city projects require significant initial investment. Smart city managers should explore public-private partnerships or alternative finance mechanisms, such as municipal bonds, development banks or vendor finance.