Ideas to Action: Page 6 of 16

The process of building a roadmap

There’s no “standard” way to create a smart city roadmap. Below we’ve suggested one approach that combines advice from many experts. It includes six steps:

  1. Find a champion
  2. Assemble a team
  3. Borrow from the larger vision
  4. Establish metrics
  5. Prioritize your targets
  6. Use experts to produce specific plans

Find a champion

The best roadmapping strategy is to involve all important stakeholder groups. Even so, the effort is unlikely to succeed without a champion. Typically this is the mayor or city manager. But some successful efforts have been led by private developers, civic groups, local universities, city council members or other prominent individuals.

The champion’s job is to sell the overall vision to city employees and city residents, and to the financial and technical partners the city must recruit. The job requires energy and salesmanship throughout the life of the project. Most experts call for a strong external leader – typically an elected official – teamed with a strong internal advocate – typically someone in a staff position who can lead the day-to-day activities.

Assemble a team

When you assemble your team, you will be balancing two needs. On the one hand, you need expertise from many different areas, which suggests a large team. On the other hand, you need to be fast and efficient, which argues for a small team. Some experts feel the ideal situation is a small group at the core that meets on a regular basis with a much larger group of experts and stakeholders.

Many practitioners suggest that cities start by setting up an interdepartmental task force. Since a smart city is a “system of systems,” every decision taken in one area has an impact on others. It is essential to take a cross-functional approach. Some cities bring in a representative from every major department. Others form a core team and consult with other departments as needed. The planning and ICT departments are almost always involved. It’s also common for the mayor to lead the task force or to designate a senior staffer.

The task force must have the authority to demand cooperation. Equally important, it should have oversight of departmental projects, at least to the extent of ensuring that those projects adhere to established standards. Even if departmental infrastructure will not be interconnected immediately, you want the ability to do so when the time is right. And that requires that departments adhere carefully to standards for interoperability, security, privacy, data management, etc.