How to Use the Readiness Guide

Mon, 2015-10-26 13:58 -- Jon DeKeles
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How to Use the Readiness Guide

The role of the Readiness Guide is to help you transition to a smart city, at your own pace and on your own terms. This chapter explains the Smart Cities Framework that supports that mission. We think you will find it a useful mechanism to understand the totality of a smart city and how the pieces work together.

This chapter gives you what you need to construct a “target list” or “wish list” for your city. When you are ready to turn that list into an actual plan, you’ll find guidance in the Chapter titled: “Ideas to Action.”

Our introduction defined the smart city as one that uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance livability, workability and sustainability. The Smart Cities Framework captures this relationship between a city’s responsibilities (what it needs to accomplish for citizens) and its enablers (the smart technologies that can make those tasks easier).



City Responsibilities

The Smart Cities Framework

Universal Aspects

Built Environment




Water and Wastewater

Health and Human Service

Public Safety

Payments and Finance

Waste Management

Technology Enablers

Instrumentation and Control                    
Security and Privacy                    
Data Management                    
Computing Resources                    


The Smart Cities Framework aligning responsibilities and enablers. The vertical responsibilities denote essential services that cities require. The horizontal enablers are technology capabilities that improve those responsibilities.


Smart city responsibilities

Cities have essential functions and services that must be available every day. Homes must have water, businesses must have power, waste must be collected, children must be educated and so on. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these vertical city functions as responsibilities. Although not all of them fall under a city’s direct control, all of them are essential to everyday life and commerce. The nine city responsibilities are:

  • Built environment. In the Readiness Guide, built environment refers to all of a city’s buildings, parks and public spaces. Certain components of the built environment – including streets and utility infrastructure – are not emphasized here because they are treated in other responsibilities (transportation and energy).
  • Energy. The infrastructure to produce and deliver energy, primarily electricity and gas for powering virtually all services and needs, processes and comfort.
  • Telecommunications. This term can have several different meanings. The Readiness Guide uses the telecommunications responsibility to refer to communications for people and businesses. We use connectivity to refer to communications for devices.
  • Transportation. A city’s roads, streets, bike paths, trail systems, vehicles, railways, subways, buses, bicycles, streetcars, ferries, air and maritime ports – any and every system that relates to citizen mobility.

  • Health and human services. The essential human services for the provision of health care, education and social services.
  • Water and wastewater. The infrastructure responsible for water – from collection to distribution, to use and finally reuse and recycling. Pipes, distribution centers, catchment areas, treatment facilities, pump stations, plants and even the water meters at private homes are all essential components of this responsibility. Water purity and cleanliness are also addressed here.
  • Waste management. The infrastructure responsible for the collection, distribution, reuse and recycling of waste materials.
  • Public safety. The infrastructure, agencies and personnel to keep citizens safe. Examples include police and fire departments, emergency and disaster prevention and management agencies, courts and corrections facilities.
  • Payments and finance. Payments link a payer and a payee and refer to all the key contributors involved: government services, merchants, consumers, businesses, banks, payment instruments providers, payment schemes. Payments sit at the heart of the economic activity in cities and form the core component of every economic flow including salaries, consumer spending, business procurement and taxes. They have become so systematic that they often go unnoticed.

Smart city enablers

Smart cities can radically improve all of the responsibilities through the power of ICT
(information and communications technology). ICT can make buildings more efficient, water and energy more affordable, transportation quicker and neighborhoods safer. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these transformative technologies and capabilities as enablers.

They put the “smart” in smart cities. The seven technology enablers are listed below.

  • Instrumentation and control is how a smart city monitors and controls conditions. Instrumentation provides the eyes and ears of a smart city. Examples include smart meters for electricity, water and gas; air quality sensors; closed circuit TV and video monitors and roadway sensors. Control systems provide remote management capabilities. Examples include switches, breakers and other devices that let operators measure, monitor and control from afar.
  • Connectivity is how the smart city’s devices communicate with each other and with the control center. Connectivity ensures that data gets from where it is collected to where it is analyzed and used. Examples include citywide WiFi networks, RF mesh networks and cellular networks. (Note: When a cellular network communicates with devices, the Readiness Guide refers to it as connectivity. When it lets people communicate, the Guide uses the term telecommunications. These are arbitrary distinctions used only in the Guide to make it easier to distinguish between the two sides of communications – devices and people.)
  • Interoperability ensures that products and services from disparate providers can exchange information and work together seamlessly. Interoperability has many benefits. For one, it prevents the city from being “locked in” to just one proprietary supplier. For another, it gives the city more choice, since it can buy from any company that supports the city’s chosen standards. For another, it lets the city build projects over time in phases, with confidence that all the pieces will work together in the end. Open standards are the key to interoperability.
  • Security and privacy are technologies, policies and practices that safeguard data, privacy and physical assets. Examples include the publishing of clear privacy rules and the implementation of a cybersecurity system. Security and privacy play a critical role in enabling smart cities because they build trust with people. Without trust, a city may have difficulty adopting new technologies and practices.
  • Data management is the process of storing, protecting and processing data while guaranteeing its accuracy, accessibility, reliability and timeliness. Data is king in a smart city. Proper management is essential to maintain data integrity and value. A citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy – including proper policies around access, authentication and authorization – is one step toward proper data management, as explained below.
  • Computing resources include 1) billions of computer “brains” of all sizes, from wrist watch components to server farms, 2) in those computers, a similar range of simple to very complex software, and 3) data, which has little value until it is communicated. Open standard software interfaces and data encodings enable digital communication. Most city data refers to things and phenomena where locations are important, so spatial standards are among the essential open standards that enable smart cities.
  • Analytics create value from the data that instrumentation provides. Examples include: forecasting crime the way we already forecast weather; analyzing electric power usage to know when and where to expand or adjust to accommodate demand; analyzing conditions to predict which equipment needs repair; automatically plotting the best route for a mass transit user, and creating personalized portals for every citizen by analyzing what they value most. And analytics that utilize data from across departments have tremendous potential to identify new insights and unique solutions to delivering services, thereby improving outcomes.

The role of dependencies in smart city planning

In the previous chapter we explored the dangers and pitfalls of siloed cities. Cities that don’t coordinate their various departments at the technology planning level often end up with redundant investments in technologies, training and even personnel.

But there’s an even deeper connection between smart city responsibilities that can’t be overlooked. That’s the matter of dependences. Since so many city systems, services and infrastructures are connected in one way or another, becoming smart in one area is often dependent on progress being made in another. 

As cities develop long-term goals and plans, it is important to consider how desired improvements to the performance of a single responsibility may require improvements in a responsibility on which there is a dependency. For example, cities cannot expect to foster a healthy population if water systems cannot ensure water quality. Yet water systems rely heavily on energy systems to pump and move water through city infrastructure. So, as you plan projects to improve water infrastructure, be sure to examine any requirements that need to be addressed by electrical systems and the distribution grid. Think holistically to avoid having to make major system changes or unanticipated course corrections further into your smart city planning.

As you move through the chapters in this Guide, we will highlight dependencies that merit consideration. You’ll come to realize that understanding dependencies is another reason to bring cross-departmental teams together early in your smart city planning process.

The role of dependencies.

A healthy population is dependent in part on quality drinking water which, in turn, is dependent on energy systems that pump the water. Thinking holistically early in the smart city planning process will help avoid unexpected roadblocks later.

 The Readiness Guide structure

The Readiness Guide is comprised of multiple chapters. One chapter examines “universal” principles – enablers common to all responsibilities. The chapters that follow detail how individual city responsibilities – power, transportation, public safety, payments, etc. – should use the technology enablers. Two final chapters cover how to translate the Guide’s theories into a roadmap.

Each chapter has three sections. The first section envisions what each responsibility could look like by the year 2030. The second section examines the benefits that arise from each target. Targets are goals – end points or outcomes a city should work toward. A third section provides a checklist of the relevant targets for that responsibility. You can use these checklists (and the summary checklist in the final chapter) to create a “wish list” that can inform and improve your smart city roadmap.

Scattered throughout are brief examples to show how cities are applying these theories in real life.

What this guide does NOT do. We’ve talked about what the Guide wants to do, but it’s also important to acknowledge the things that are outside its scope.

The Guide does NOT suggest what your city’s overall goals should be. Smart city technologies are a means to an end. Every city should decide for itself what ends it hopes to achieve. But whatever you’re after, the targets described in this guide represent the best technical foundation for pursuing those goals.

The Guide does NOT propose which responsibilities should be prioritized. Every city has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, its own unique history and resources, its own unique preferences and aspirations. Some cities may choose to tackle transportation first, for instance, while others may feel that energy is more urgent.

The Guide does NOT pretend that its targets are set in stone. Change is continuous, and technology advances are famously unpredictable. The targets shown here are the best recommendations we can make today, as informed by a large contingent of the world’s top experts. They will put cities on the right path, but cities will still need to make periodic evaluations and course corrections as technology evolves.


As you review the chapters that follow, you can use the checklists at the end of each one to note where your city is currently weak or strong. Once you’ve completed those assessments, you can transfer them to the summary checklist in the final chapter, Ideas to Action. With that summary in place, you’ll be ready to build your smart city roadmap, using the tips and techniques provided in that last chapter.

The mission of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide is to set you on the path to becoming a city of the future – a smart city with enhanced livability, workability and sustainability. It will take patience to march through each chapter to compile your own “wish list” of essential features. And it will take leadership to build those features into a comprehensive smart city plan that has the support of the public.

But amazing advantages await those cities that make the effort. Their citizens will have a healthier, happier place to live along with better, higher-paying jobs. And all of that in a sustainable fashion that doesn’t rob from the next generation.