10 September 2018

Users Are Not Makers. Tear Down Those Chinese Walls!

Smart City focus is on the connected citizen. Nothing wrong with that, yet the link with engineering seems to be forgotten. At least experts never seem to mention this. And, in my book, there will not ever be a smart city without proper engineering.

Don’t forget the engineers

Smart Cities are not born, they are engineered and built. I do understand that, as an example, for the citizen, the user of the city, finding a free parking spot is much more relevant than how it was constructed and how it is maintained. Yet without design, construction and maintenance there would be no parking space at all!

Where does all the data come from?

When cities transition to become a smart city, a lot of engineering has to take place. All this engineering will create a lot of data. Data that can also be used in smart city apps used by citizens. I will use the parking space example once more: in the design process several characteristics of the parking place are determined: its location, the dimensions, when it will be available for parking and so on. A lot of this information is relevant to a smart city parking app.

Sharing information is key

Talking to city staff it struck me that the engineering experts hardly know their smart city colleagues and vice-versa. Traditionally many cities are organized in silos. Which has a huge, mostly negative, impact on sharing information. Sharing information is key for a smart city! The Chinese walls between city departments really have to come down. And the importance of engineering in relation with building smart cities has to be better understood. So we can all benefit from smart cities quicker and the creation of a smart city becomes more (cost) effective!

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