Citizens and their smart phones. Most smart phones ship with cameras plus a dozen or more sensors, ranging from accelerometers to barometers to GPS trackers. In Buenos Aires, citizens use an app to register concerns. The city analyzes the data and, based on the location and the issue, assigns someone to solve it. Similar apps are appearing around the world, allowing citizens to use their cameras and GPS functionality to record potholes and other situations.
Non-profits and non-governmental organizations. Many philanthropic organizations offer grants and programs in support of smarter cities. For instance, Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports numerous programs to drive innovation in cities, including What Works Cities, the Mayors Challenge, the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles, the India Smart Cities Mission and more. And some organizations are focused on one particular issue, and can be very helpful in their specialty. For example, the Future of Privacy Forum is a Washington DC-based think tank group focused on issues of data privacy. With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities has funded Chief Resiliency Officers for 100 cities around the world. Both are members of the Smart Cities Council Advisory Board.
Private sector. There are several ways to partner with the private sector. One is a simple transaction – buying a starter app or suite of apps. The City of San Diego is working with Council Partners Intel, AT&T and Current (by General Electric) to gather information for use by the city and by the private sector. Current will put cameras, microphones and sensors on 3,200 street lights. The system will locate gunshots, estimate crowds, check vehicle speeds and much more. The city will also make the data available to students, developers and entrepreneurs to build applications.
Even if you don't buy applications, it almost always makes sense to seek data partnerships. For instance, Boston and other cities glean data from Yelp (the restaurant review service) to help them decide where to send their health inspectors. And many cities now seek traffic data from companies such as Uber (the ride-sharing service) and Waze (the community-based traffic and navigation app). They use that data to improve traffic congestion and also to improve their long-term planning, thanks to better insights into where people are going and when.
The Food Safety and Sanitation Office of Wake County, North Carolina, USA, conducts sanitation inspections at more than 2,600 restaurants. It now uses social media to disseminate its data in a way that is accessible and useful to consumers. The agency had been relying on the county website to make restaurant scores available, but it knew that accessing the information was cumbersome. So it partnered with Yelp, a popular site for sharing reviews of local businesses. It now automatically pushes its inspection scores to Yelp. The only costs were the minimal staff hours to set up automatic data communication with Yelp's servers.
The guidelines from this chapter will give you a head start to a successful digital transformation. If you are new to smart cities, you'll also want to reference other parts of the Smart Cities Readiness Guide. To understand how to prioritize your city services and get them onto your smart city action plan, review the Smart People chapter. For a more detailed look at the underlying technologies, refer to Enabling Technologies for a Successful Smart City. And to be sure your city services are built on a rock-solid foundation, review Foundational Principles for a Successful Smart City.
Your goal is to leverage the digital transformation to reduce the burden on both customers and employees. You won't go wrong as long as you keep these two words in mind: ease and efficiency. First, focus on making it easy to do business with your city. Second, use this transition to streamline your government to be more efficient, so you can provide happier for less.