Jen Hawes-Hewitt: strategies for smart cities (Smart Cities Conference)
**Jen Hawes-Hewitt, Accenture Intelligent Cities**
In 2008 we saw a tipping point where more people now live in cities. We’ve had 200 years of urbanisation to day, and we’ve to 50 years to do the same amount. It’s a short window. Cities are the centre of resource consumption. Yet the most highly-eductaed, successful workforce are globally mobile. Technology can help this smart meters and grids are infrastructure, but they’re just sensors. People can become sensors, too, bringing all sorts of information together.
B&Q is leading the private sector by example, setting itself harsh targets for CO2 reduction. Smart Cities was google 7 times more in 2011 compared to 2010. €75m of EU funding was released in 2011 for the Smart Cities & communities agenda.
Smart grids have been around for a while. Now we’re moving towards a superset, where you think about making everything in a city smart. There’s a recognition that Mayors have a role to play in this debate. But we’re at a peak of hypes – she’s been invited to 20 conferences this year. We’ve got two to three years to really create something before disenchantment sets in.
There are a multiplicity of stakeholders, with public sector on long decision cyslcels, and private on very short-term ways. And people’s views of what makes an urban environment desirable vary. Politicians want to tell stories and show blue, citizens want to lower their energy bills and have more discretionary income. There’s lots of talk about technology, but not much explanation of what it actually means for people’s lives. Getting the narrative right is important, not just vendors pushing products. Cities are systems – much of the value will come from integrating different projects. And, in an age of austerity, we need to get smarter at how we fund these projects – and that means business model innovation. What will people pay for, because fit make their lives better or cheaper?
A smart city is one that is focused on using technology in more intelligent way. They’re beginning to elect CIOs. How do cities create markets for the information age? Live Singapore project, run by MIT. They use the live GPS data from taxis, to know where they are. They use meteorological data to forecast the local rain storms – and feed that to the taxi companies, to make sure they’re in the right place in the right time. And it reduces CO2 by making sure that the cabs are not driving around pointlessly.
We need to change our approach to planning. We need to think about infrastructure, and the right services to attract the right talent to a city. And cite need to collaborate with partners to compete.
Ciudad Creativa Digital – making Guadalajara into a hub for Hispanic video gaming. They’re redeveloping the city centre to create a business clusters, integrating the physical and the digital. Accenture are advising them.
**Worth reading: **
[Information Marketplaces: the New Economics of Cities](http://www.theclimategroup.org/_assets/files/information_marketplaces_05_12_11.pdf)
[Smart Cities: The Only Intelligent answer for an Urbanised world.](http://www.cphcleantech.com/media/1782786/ccj_issue_2.pdf)
Adam has been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 25. He currently works as a consultant and trainer, helping people do better, more engaged online journalism.