Nokia’s Smart City Playbook documents best practices in 22 cities

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Nokia has released ‘The Smart City Playbook’, a strategy report that documents best practices for smart cities and provides guidance to city leaders on successful strategies used by other municipalities to make their cities smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Commissioned by Nokia and developed by Machina Research, the playbook was developed through primary research into the strategies and progress of 22 cities around the world.

The study uncovered significant diversity in the smart city strategies of different cities, but identified three distinct routes that cities are taking to make themselves smarter.

The anchor route involves a city deploying a single application to address a pressing problem such as traffic congestion, and then adding other applications over time.

The platform route involves building the underlying infrastructure needed to support a wide variety of smart applications and services.

Beta Cities, by contrast, try out multiple applications as pilots to see how they perform before making long-term deployment decisions.

While the study found significant differences between cities, even amongst those cities following the same route, it also concluded that there are several particular practices used by successful smart cities that would appear to be of universal benefit:

  • Successful cities have established open and transparent rules for the use of data (on which all smart cities are dependent) by government departments and third parties, whether shared freely or monetized to cover data management costs.
  • Many cities that are advanced in their smart city journeys have committed to making both ICT and IoT infrastructure accessible to users both inside and outside of government, and have avoided the creation of silos between government departments.
  • Governments (and their third-party partners) that have worked to actively engage residents in smart city initiatives have been particularly effective, most notably those where the benefits are highly visible such as smart lighting and smart parking.
  • Smart city infrastructure needs to be scalable so it can grow and evolve to meet future needs, and secure to provide certainty that both government and private data are protected.
  • Cities that select technology partners that can provide the innovation capacity, ability to invest and real-world experience, along with technology platforms that are open to avoid vendor lock-in, will be at an advantage.

The study also offers myriad, real-world examples of how various cities are managing challenges including those identified above.

It is expected that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban centers by 2050, making it critical for governments and other stakeholders to put strategies in place to more effectively meet the needs of their growing populations. Intelligent ICT and IoT platforms have essential roles to play in the evolution of smart cities.

The study concluded that many cities are already leveraging these technologies to optimize services and infrastructure, make better-informed decisions, boost economic development, encourage social interactions and make their communities safer and eco-friendly while improving the delivery of a range of public services.

“The process of making a city smart is extremely complex, and there are so many different strategies being put forward in the market that choosing the right path for your city can be an enormous challenge,” said Osvaldo Di Campli, head of Global Enterprise & Public Sector at Nokia. “Our goal in commissioning this report by Machina Research was to cut through the clutter and identify strategies that are clearly working for cities.”

Jeremy Green, Principal Analyst at Machina Research and author of the Smart City Playbook, said: “No one said becoming a smart city would be easy. There are lots of choices to be made. The technology and the business models are evolving rapidly, so there are many degrees of uncertainty. Standards are emerging but are by no means finalized. So there is no ‘royal road’ to smartness. But there is a right way to travel – with your eyes open, with realistic expectations, and with a willingness to learn from others. That includes other cities that might face the same problems as you, even if in a different context. It includes the suppliers, who may have learned from their experiences elsewhere, including in other verticals. It includes start-ups, who can be great innovators; and most of all, it includes the city’s own inhabitants, who are your real partners for the journey.”

Cities profiled in the study include Auckland, Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Bristol, Cape Town, Cleveland, Delhi, Dubai, Jeddah, Mexico City, New York City, Paris, Pune, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Vienna and Wuxi.

nokia Machina smart city infographic


Focus on Singapore

Singapore is one of the most advanced ‘platform’ cities surveyed among the 22 cities, according to the playbook report:

Compared to other leading “platform cities” such as Barcelona and Shanghai, Singapore is well-placed to capitalize on its stable economy, efficient public administration, and co-creation approach to take its Smart Nation vision into reality.

Singapore has a world-class network infrastructure to support the applications and use cases – fastest LTE networks and highest average peak connection speed for internet connection.

The Singapore and Bristol governments have formed relationships with technology partners, which is a critical success factor for smart cities. Both have decided to proceed on parallel tracks with several vendors as a way of ensuring future inter- operability even in the absence of mature standards; neither have chosen a single vendor to provide them with their central application platform.

The playbook also says Singapore is one of the most “sustainable” and “smartest” cities in the world:

Overall, Singapore is the most similar to Paris and San Francisco from all three aspects – smart, sustainable and safe.

Singapore has mature and intelligent transport applications such as a public transport system that is the envy of the world, and a centrally planned and directed affordable housing policy that exemplifies the benefits of public-private partnership.

It is also one of the smartest cities with the Singapore government focusing heavily on investing in R&D for smart city technologies ($13.9 billion allocated for 2016).

Singapore is ranked one of the most sustainable cities as it aims to become a living laboratory for smart urban technologies, including water systems, green buildings and city management.

For city-by-city findings and the complete set of smart city best practices and recommendations, read the full Machina Research Smart City Playbook here.

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