Ideas to Action

In this chapter, you’ll learn how a simple roadmapping process can put you on the path to a smart city. We’ve hinted at this next point before, but now we’re just going to say it: Technology is the easy part. The hard part is turning ideas into action. Fortunately, help is at hand from those who have gone before. In reviewing hundreds of successful pilots and interviewing dozens of experts, several themes have emerged, which we have shared on the pages that follow.

If you’ve completed the other chapters in this Guide, you now have a set of targets to guide your smart city efforts. But you don’t yet know where to apply those principles first or how to translate those concepts into on-the-ground realities. In these next pages, we’ll explain how a roadmap can be the bridge between ideas and action. We’ll cover:

  • The importance of a roadmap
  • The elements of a roadmap
  • The process of building a roadmap
  • Success strategies for a roadmap

Please note that the Smart Cities Council does NOT believe in roadmaps in isolation. Rather, the roadmap should be linked to a city’s vision document or comprehensive plan. We believe wholeheartedly in digital technology. But that technology should be in service to a city’s larger goals.

The importance of a roadmap

Why a roadmap? The path to a smart city is a long one. It can easily take 5, 10, even 15 years to make smart technologies pervasive. It is essential to have a clear, consensus goal to motivate citizens. And clear targets to guide the course corrections that will be needed along the way.

As we use the term in this Guide, a roadmap is a simplified outline of the major steps to becoming a smart city. It is NOT a vision document or a master plan or a detailed project plan. Those other things come into play, but you also need a high-level, “30,000-foot view” of your future. As experts point out, academics think about the “why” of smart cities while technology companies focus on the “what.” Yet you also need to figure out the “how”... and that’s where a roadmap comes in.

Overcoming smart city hurdles

A roadmap can help you overcome obstacles to a smart city transformation. One such hurdle is human nature. People are naturally resistant to change. Yet we live in an era where change is constant. As a result, an entire management science has arisen around “change management” – around successfully transitioning companies to a desired future state.

Cities face a similar challenge... but they can’t simply order residents to attend a change management seminar. Nor can they fire the ones who won’t go along. Instead, city government must influence and inspire the population. A roadmap is a powerful tool in that effort.