Universal

Some of today’s greatest cities benefitted from visionaries who – centuries ago – saw possibilities for civic betterment and made it happen. A compelling example comes from leaders back in the 1800s. Way before the phrase “urban sprawl” had entered our psyche, they committed to preserving vast amounts of open spaces for public use. Think of Hyde Park in London, Central Park jutting through Manhattan or Ueno Park in Tokyo. They are all testaments to leaders “thinking outside the box” a very long time ago.

Fast-forward a couple of centuries. It’s your turn to make that same kind of lasting impact on your city. This chapter will help get you started. In many ways, it is the most important chapter in the Guide because it lays out the universal principles that should underlie every city responsibility, from water to power to public safety and all the rest. Get these right and you’ve set up your city for decades of success.

This chapter includes 17 goals — we call them “targets” — that will propel you down the smart city path. We refer to these 17 as “universal targets” because each of them applies to every city responsibility.

Here’s an example: One of the targets is to use analytics to achieve full situational awareness. That means giving system operators a real-time, big-picture view of what’s going on so they can spot problems early and act quickly to mitigate them. An example might be an accident that has a major thoroughfare blocked. Knowing about the accident in real time gives transit operators a chance to reroute buses.

But that situational awareness also has great value to public safety, to water, to energy, to... well, to virtually every city responsibility, hencetheir inclusion in this Universal chapter. (In later chapters, you’ll read about targets that apply only to specific responsibilities – energy or transportation, for instance).

Before we drill down on the 17 universal targets, a quick refresher on key terms:

  • ICT — information and communications technologies. The blanket term for the devices, software, standards and communications that make cities smart.
  • Instrumentation – the devices used to collect data about city conditions. Examples include smart meters, occupancy sensors, temperature sensors, light detectors, pressure sensors and many more.
  • Responsibilities – the everyday essential functions and services a city provides such as water, public safety, transportation, etc.
  • Enablers – to enable is “to give power, means, competence or ability.” By that token, enablers are the individual ICT components that allow city responsibilities to get smart. Examples include computing resources, data analytics and similar functionalities.
  • Targets – goals for smart city efforts. A series of objectives that, taken together, form the foundation of an ICT-enabled smart city.

Before we go further, let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits that your citizens will gain once you start checking off the smart city targets recommended in this Guide.