Five steps to developing a Smart City platform

04 September 2013 | Gary Wachowicz, Industry Managing Director, Worldwide Public Sector

I want to change the world, one city at a time. How?

My vision goes like this: Combine existing data with new technologies to gain real-time visibility into buildings, infrastructure, businesses, and citizens. Leverage this new visibility to work more efficiently. This, in turn, frees up resources, grows economiesand most importantlymakes your community a better place for people to live. 

The way to achieve real-time visibility—the holy grail for cities—is through dynamic city platforms. These flexible data and application management solutions are the only way to ensure good data—data that changes as cities, businesses, and people change. And good data is the key to visibility.

Ready to get started? Follow these steps to develop your dynamic city platform:

1. Identify priorities.

Choose your priorities from these categories:  government administration, public safety, health, education, tourism, energy and water, transportation, or buildings and infrastructure.

2. Curtail risks.

Focus on rapid-ROI solutions to minimize the financial risks of building Smart City platforms. Sponsorship from the mayoral, city manager, or provincial levels reduce risk further by preventing individual government silos from acting independently. It also ensures that for each proposed government action the impact on the plan is assessed. 

3. Go for the quick win.

City dashboards, which display key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can track your progress, are a relatively low-cost place to start. They provide immediate transparency across the city and may deliver alerts when pre-established thresholds are reached. Start with standard KPIs supported by one of these organizations, and then modify them to meet your city’s needs.  

4. Select high-value solutions.

Choose data-driven solutions that provide immediate value and address topics such as:

  • Tax compliance
  • Energy and water conservation
  • Demand-side energy
  • Social analysis
  • And more

Develop one solution at a time to create your dynamic city platforms—as well as intelligent data management platforms that extend easily across multiple functional areas, rolling up into enterprise city models. These models combine with Big Data to provide the cornerstone of a connected, Smart City.

5. Don’t forget governance.

The city dashboard plays a large role in helping govern performance, but it’s not enough. Cities must also ask: Who’s responsible for the program’s success? How will we address change? How will feedback be received? What organizational structure will work best? What’s the budget? All of this should be built into a governance plan—an often overlooked but essential step. 

Now that you know about the holy grail, the next step is up to you. Meet with internal teams and trusted partners. Be aggressive, innovate, and push to create Smart City platforms—with unparalleled visibility—like the City of Barcelona did. Take advantage of programs like Microsoft’s CityNext. And get started. Creating a Smart City takes time. Commit right now to starting the journey.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Gary Wachowicz
Industry Managing Director, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Gary Wachowicz | Industry Managing Director, Worldwide Public Sector

Gary provides global strategic support to government agencies, and works with Microsoft partners and their government customers to optimize agency operations and citizen services. Read more