The digital transformation of cities: 10 steps to a smart city

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The digital revolution is creating a hyper-connected and collaborative society that transforms relationships between people.

The 21st century is the century of the city. Growing urbanization has led to over half of the world’s population living in cities, which are centers of economic and social influence. At the same time, the digital revolution is creating a hyper-connected and collaborative society that transforms relationships between people. Smart cities appear at the confluence of these two global trends. The answer to contemporary challenges is what supports the smart city concept. In emerging and developing countries, one distinctive characteristic of a smart city is that it be sustainable. Sustainable solutions will ensure that smart cities produce greater economic and social value e consume less resources. They should be managed in such a way as to produce less refuse and consume less energy, as well as to offer more adequate services to residents, like transportation, health, and education.

Based on a synthesis of ideas and recommendations from public officials, experts, and private enterprise, 10 steps to a smart city were identified.

This content is gleaned from the book: “Smart cities: their digital transformation”, by Maria Alexandra Cunha, Erico Przeybilovicz, Javiera Fernanda Medina Macaya, and Fernando Burgos.

1. It’s necessary to build a city’s perspective that considers its particular and historical features, besides its identity.

2. Each city has to define a long-term plan that goes beyond the administration of political parties, with extensive participation, with effective communication and with its governance anchored on society and citizenship to ensure the continued existence in the long term.

3. The smart city project’s leadership belongs to the municipal public management, the head is the mayor.

4. A smart city is built by people and for people. Citizen participation schemes should be put into effect, the citizen is the center.

5. Work in a more favorable legal framework.

6. In order to step up the development and sustainability of the projects, the private sector involvement must be considered, based on its knowledge, skills and resources, building new sustainable business models.

7. The horizontal integration of services in a smart city platform is the basis that enables the city to be smart.

8. The technological model must be founded on an open, standard and interoperable platform to get higher scale, in a flexible evolution with lower costs, to avoid reliance on suppliers or technical structures and ensure the full development of an innovative ecosystem in the smart city.

9. Make the availability of open data that allows accountability, monitoring and control easier, in addition to the development of new services by companies and citizens, creating value based on the data.

10. To overcome old and new challenges, the smart city plan must foresee integrated actions with the use of technology to face the historical problems of Brazilian cities like the ones regarding safety, health, education, sanitation, housing and social inequality; without forgetting the new demands for mobility, sustainability and economic transformation.