These five targets have the most profound effect on a city’s ability to transform itself. Put another way, these five targets are the ones that will get you in the most trouble if you fail to get them right. Imagine, for example, leaving each individual department to figure out cybersecurity on its own. Some departments may have access to specialized expertise in-house or via consultants. But others are likely to fail at this challenging task, putting the entire city at risk.
Reminder: You don’t have to build all of these things yourself, but you must ensure that they are in place. In some cases, the private sector may step up. (Many cities already have citywide communications in place, for instance.) In other cases, you may be able to borrow ideas from cities that have gone before rather than start from scratch. (You can already find several solid privacy frameworks, for instance.) In other cases, your city may have un- or under-utilized assets that can be put into service. For instance, many cities have unused “dark fiber” – fiber optic cables that were installed but never put into service – that can be used for citywide communications.
Consider overall goals. Once you’re comfortable that you have the fundamentals in play, filter your possible projects against your city’s overall goals. As explained earlier, look to broader city vision documents and plans that set out long-term goals. Your smart city roadmap should prioritize projects that make progress against those objectives.
If your plan calls for the expansion of tourism, for instance, you’ll want to prioritize projects that contribute to that objective. If your long-term plan calls for you to accommodate a large influx of new residents, you should emphasize projects that help you answer that imperative.
Bolster your weak spots. If you still have too many possibilities, you can narrow your choices by looking for projects that shore up your weak spots. The checklists in each chapter (and the summary checklist at the end of this chapter), contain a column to note where you are weak or strong.
Seek out quick paybacks. Finally, if you still have more candidates than you can tackle, look for easy wins. Give preference to projects that can be completed quickly and that have a rapid return on investment. Time and again, we hear from smart city experts that it is essential to demonstrate success early. For your long-term smart city transformation to succeed, you must have some early, short-term wins. These early successes will build enthusiasm and momentum. And, done right, they will create value streams that can help to pay for future projects.