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  • Jon Polly

Smart Cities Have To Start Somewhere

It is expected that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. That number may change drastically after we have all been quarantined and social distancing due to COVID-19. If it doesn’t; it means cities will have more crowding, higher standards of living, and more crime. In this day of growing urban metropolitan areas, we hear the term Smart City being thrown around frequently. City leaders are realizing that if they don’t do something, their cities will begin to “grind” to a halt. Smart Cities won’t be Cloud City from Star Wars anytime soon. Don’t expect to see Iron Man with blue lights on his shoulders by next year, but that might be awesome. Today self-driving cars communicate with intersections to prevent collisions. Technology allows us to pinpoint gunshots across the city. Reduction in fossil fuel use offers cleaner air to breath. Today Tokyo, labeled the world’s safest city, has worked to improve its resident’s safety and quality of life by investing in infrastructure and public safety. Imagine if they invest in more. Smart Cities are not limited to the urban community though. Even smaller cities can implement Smart City applications. 

Grind

There is no Big Bang for the Smart City. They do not just happen. City leaders do not just declare that the city is Smart or Safe (these words get used interchangeable at times) and it is. Smart Cities are made up of collaboration, partnerships, and integration. Collaboration between city departments is required. The sharing of resources must be agreed upon and who will manage the shared resources. Partnerships are recommended. Either Public-Private Partnerships (P3); inter-department / inter-agency; or federal, state, and local partnerships to help fund the venture. Integration is key. The integration of infrastructure, key systems, analytics, and data that help the city’s intelligence to “flow” are necessary. Data may include surveillance data, traffic data, SCADA data, and other IoT sensor data. However with more data requires additional systems, and potentially new people to review and implement data.

Flow

As stated Smart Cities are not just Smart. They just start. They start somewhere. They take one system and integrate with another. They take one forward thinking stakeholder and collaborate with another forward thinking stakeholder. They partner with key partners that see the future. They Just Start. Once they start, they begin to build upon each system. It takes time. Smart infers intelligence. Intelligence is learned. Even geniuses have to be taught. It is an organic growth. Some Smart Cities will grow faster than others. But all Smart Cities started somewhere. They budgeted, and grew, and budgeted more, and grew more.  

They Just Start

In the Smart Cities circles, inevitably the conversation turns to Detroit’s Project Greenlight. Project Greenlight was started on January 1st, 2016 as a public-private partnership (P3) with eight gas stations to provide real-time video to the police department. Today, there are over 500 partners in Project Greenlight. They agree to purchase and install a specified equipment package that costs approximately $5000. The police department is then able to use the private cameras to help place officers and respond to incidents faster.  It is one of the models to start a Smart City. Each city is different and the implementation will take effort and time.

Cities will continue to “grind”. Smart Cities will “flow” to create an organic intelligence that offers a safe place to live, a quality of life for the residents that exceeds their needs, and fluid cooperation between public and private entities. 

But first they have to begin. 

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