Home Is openness the key to successful smart city developments?

Is openness the key to successful smart city developments?

Lots of articles have been written in the past year explaining what you need as a city planner to make your city smart, but the Dutch city of Breda believes openness with citizens, stakeholders, and utilities is the best way to achieve your goals without confusion or additional cost.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Corné Kriesels, co-ordinator of cables and pipes for the city of Breda, said a “bottom up approach” is the only way for a smart city to succeed, which requires city planners to understand the challenges of its own systems and goals for the city.

See Also: Most U.K. councils’ smart city projects just hot air

From there, city planners start talking to stakeholders and smart city architects to create a vision for their future city.

“Ultimately, we all need each other, so we need to optimise processes for everyone involved,” said Kriesels to Computer Weekly. “That takes time and money at the start, but will ultimately yield substantial savings.”

On top of openness from the start, there must also be an understanding across all parties involved on the roles and responsibilities. Kriesels claims that the understanding from all parties will remove issues in the long term, even if it takes longer for city planners to move forward.

City planners should also be public about investments and interests from the get-go, to avoid public complaints. Plenty of public projects, like Budapest’s attempt to cut down green space and replace it with another museum center, has led to public outcry against the city leaders.

A smart city is an open, transparent city?

Kriesels ultimately sees all smart city projects working in an open, public environment, like iCass built for Breda. The app is run by city administrations, which add projects and other resources for contractors and stakeholders, who can upload progress of the project in real-time. In the future, the app will be open to the public, giving them more opportunities to view and discuss the projects.

In the future, Kriesels hopes to bring public WiFi, currently available in the city center, to the entire city. He also wants charges for smartphones available at bus stops and other areas, and smart garbage that recognizes when a bin is over three quarters full.

Breda is an interesting case study for other smart cities in development, on how openness and an ability to strategize before rushing into decisions can pay off in the long term.

Not everyone agrees: Google’s Sidewalk Labs has been lurking in the shadows for months, attempting to win a smart city contract. Instead of an open platform where the city controls the flow of information and projects, Sidewalk Labs wants to be responsible for the development of new zones, the creation of new public tech, and an apparent requirement for Sidewalk Labs service is deregulation of utilities.

There’s no one perfect method for smart city success, but Breda is ranked the smartest city in the Netherlands, and one of the highest ranked in the world. The openness since the beginning also means Breda is less likely to be accused of unorthodox development or a lack of public interest, at least, compared to most smart city projects.

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