By: Dr Jonathan Reichental
Suppose that the mayor proposes that your city work on becoming a smart city. It sounds like you need to build a vision and a strategy for your community. That’s reasonable. But wait — might there be an opportunity to engage participants outside the city limits?
All too often, the natural inclination is to focus solely on a single city. It makes sense on many levels. However, is it possible to be completely successful if the broader world isn’t considered?
The term broader world may refer to adjoining cities or to the local region. It may also mean engaging with federal organisations.
Cities don’t exist in a vacuum. They are entirely dependent on their interdependence with other communities and external organisations. Here are some examples:
- Public transportation: A public transportation system that serves a region can’t be considered only in the context of a single city or a few cities. If your smart city work impacts public transport, you need to engage with regional transport providers.
- Public safety: Your city might invest heavily in new technology to combat crime, but if you limit that work to your city’s borders and fail to engage surrounding communities, you might be restricting the effectiveness of your efforts.
- Environment: One of the most obvious suggestions for engaging participants beyond your own city is any effort related to the environment and climate change. Most people acknowledge that humans won’t solve air, water, and climate issues, for example, by doing work in a silo.
These areas don’t respect borders. The best outcomes will be achieved when collaboration exists at the regional and national levels, where appropriate.
Collaborate to cut costs
Finally, smart city leaders can explore regional efforts if it means sharing cost. It’s highly possible that the work you’re doing would be of interest to cities nearby. Go ahead and have that conversation with them.
A smart city effort executed by several cities will reduce costs and may even be more successful due to regional collaboration. Even if it’s more difficult, the effort may well be worth it. You won’t know unless you explore it.
Dr Jonathan Reichental is a multiple-award-winning technology and business leader whose career has spanned both the private and public sectors. He’s been a senior software engineering manager, a director of technology innovation, and has served as Chief Information Officer at both O’Reilly Media and the City of Palo Alto, California. He also creates online education for LinkedIn Learning. Jonathan can be reached on Twitter: @reichental
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