1 March 2019

Penning my thoughts to the creation of a smarter Johannesburg

Johannesburg – The economic hub of South Africa is an African city of eminence, buzzing with distinctive African character and an undeniably vibrant, yet modern aesthetic. Jozi as it is fondly known is becoming one of the fastest urbanising cities in the world, with people relocating from across the country into the metropolis for an improved standard of living, modern employment and schooling opportunities.

    Although great for economic activity, the city is becoming densely populated at such a rapid pace, leading to enormous strain on existing infrastructure. To overcome challenges brought forward by urbanisation it is important to understand the city, its constraints and all aspects of concern that may arise in future due to people continuing to move to the city. All of this requires city managers to monitor its urban environment , to understand it and to plan for positive and negative disruption.

    Here is my list to create a Smarter Johannesburg:

  1. Gearing up for a more energy efficient city

    The creation of a more energy efficient Johannesburg becomes imperative to reduce our demand on the national grid and ultimately to indirectly reduce the city’s carbon emission output; the government and various organisations such as – South African Energy Efficiency Confederation (SAEEC), SANEDI, Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA),The Green buildings Council, Urban Energy Support(City Energy) , South African Cities Network etc have done extensive ground work on practical tools and guides that could support Johannesburg’s journey to becoming more energy efficient.

    The key to the success of this journey depends on our ability to practically implement provided mechanisms and this requires a cultural shift on a residential, industrial and commercial level in order to bring the topic front & centre while still striving to implement a range of energy efficient interventions.

  2. Deploy digital interventions

    The deployment of digital interventions can bring transparency to the city’s energy consumption; it’s transportation networks, infrastructure and logistics. There are various pockets of data and initiatives that currently exist within different organisations – digital interventions can enable the consolidation of this data to bring about greater transparency that will propel smarter decisions. It grants microcosmic awareness of the city’s challenges and how these challenges could be addressed.

    Technology serves as a powerful catalyst, but it cannot do it alone; it requires human interventions and the overall willingness from all stakeholders to part-take.

    At Siemens we believe that collaboration with like-minded organisations is the key to creating environments that enables the much-needed innovative and solution driven thinking.

  3. Promote a unified vision for the future of Johannesburg

    Johannesburg needs to position itself as a forward-looking city that has equipped itself to enable better decision-making using data for all stakeholders―government, business, and residents.

    A unified vision of what the city should be like needs to become the industry driver. The city should be able to move away from the age-old perception of it being mineral based towards a newer vision that encourages the digital economy and accommodates a new wave of entrepreneurs and large job creators. A future Johannesburg should be interested in the well-being of its citizens, it must create amenities and infrastructure that is inviting for people to live and work in

  4. Adapt to the needs of the People

    Cities should become attractive, amenities such as recreational spaces around cities should be enticing to its residents. A smarter Johannesburg must be able to raise the overall pedigree of people who come to work and live here because of the surrounding facilities, it should be able to create environments that retain and attract the much-needed investment and talent.

  5. Future – proof the infrastructure

    Future proofing cities encompasses building with sustainability in mind, for instance our current energy crises could have been avoided, it is for this reason that infrastructure needs to be forward-looking to enable capacity for future growth. Structural thought should be given to the manner in which newly developed residential areas consider traffic flow in and out of those areas as well as the prospective volume of labour areas.

    Johannesburg as a future smart city holds incredible potential. Jozi has long been an economic melting pot since the discovery of an outcrop of a gold reef on the farm Langlaagte over 100 years ago. Since then, the city has enjoyed development in commerce, industry, infrastructure and education amongst other things. However, going forward It should be known for being able to provide benefits such as:

    A better quality of life for residents and visitors.
    Aesthetics and physical setting.
    Economic competitiveness to attract industry & talent.
    An environmentally conscious focus on sustainability.
    Fantastic Public services.
    Accessibility and mobility.
    Safety and Security.
    Stable and renewable power.
    Thriving economy.

    There is no doubt that people will come for the natural environment, pleasant weather conditions, nearby mountains and the built environment such as coffee shops, malls, and visually-appealing residential estates, buildings, education.

    What will keep them coming is how they can connect to infrastructure for better insights, how they can better engage with governments, other citizens and businesses with the goal of obtaining better city services and a higher quality of life.

    As our South African CEO, Sabine Dall’Omo once remarked “This concept, however, requires more than the installation of pipes and drainage. It necessitates quantum-age thinking coupled with detailed information, sustainable plans, and ingenuity in digital transformation.” And at Siemens we have the domain know and the technical portfolio to help city managers, planners and industry partners to help charter a new course and vision for smarter, and more resilient South African city-scape.

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