Next city. Think partnerships

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.Jane Jacobs
In the near future I will run a workshop at a municipality in my region. Question is: How can the municipality play a role in the Greater Copenhagen metropolitan area?

Birds eye comment: An extremely critical questions, as two out of three people will live in cities by 2050 – an influx of 2.5 billion new urbanites. However, the pain I discovered was that I and the majority of us are so unprepared to provide qualified answers as we move from futurism to pragmatic strategy development.

Some strategic questions
  • How can the city help residents?
  • What is the city’s competitive advantage?
  • Which competitive clusters is it a part of?
  • What should the city optimize for?
  • How do we measure the effectiveness of a city?
  • What values should (sould not) be embedded in a city’s culture?
  • How can a city constantly evolve and be open to change?

Smart cities

The smart city thinking has been tightly associated with city strategy movement for a while.

An ideal smart city strategy covers six interrelated action fields, comprising a host of subcategories and solutions.

Needless to say, smart city does not necessarily cover issues such as ‘happy citizens’, ‘culture’, etc. City strategies embrace smart cities, but is more than that.

Source: Roland Berger

Smart city models

Helsinki: the open city

Helsinki has chosen the open data and more speci cally the open government. “Our dream is that every public agenda, every euro and any public issue could be easily analyzed, visualized, understood and contributed to by the citizens in advance.”

Stockholm: the green and connected city

Stockholm has implemented a digital development project notably with the deployment of high-speed infrastructures, a concentration of digital companies within the same district and interoperability of infrastructure. It promotes the Green IT side of its developments which aim to reduce energy consumption and pollution.

Lyon: the pleasant city to live in

The metropolis of Lyon has gradually positioned itself as the leader in terms of smart city projects. It allies economic development and quality of life, which makes it considerably appealing and fosters the development of large-scale smart projects.

Rio de Janeiro: the managed, supervised and predictive city

In order to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016, the city of Rio de Janeiro has set up a service centre which monitors the city network using cameras. 900 cameras help to develop prediction models and to inform inhabitants in the event of natural disasters or tra c problems (using sirens and social networks).

Some next city cookbook ingredients
More and more cities are taking a strategic approach to becoming smart. But some lack connected, end-to-end thinking. They lack the very big picture.
All over we see people who are not realizing their potential in large part because their cities lack the opportunities and living conditions required.

How do cities unleash their massive potential? The need for new thinking continues to increase – driven by major technology shifts such as smart grids, autonomous vehicles – as well as by the growing density of cities and untenable housing prices.

As always, nothing is impossible – we can do amazing things given a blank slate.

But how do cities implement their transformation projects right through to the actual implementation? Some issues:

  • Think scale. Citizens do not worry about borders. Scale (investment) is vital. So think partnerships above all.
  • Governance and controlling the roadmap is key. So build a high-performing team. Invest in learning.
  • Introduce investment accountability to secure productivity.
  • Make each employee in the city accountable for own actions.
  • Embrace technology.
  • Make planning for change inclusive and flexible.
  • Cost of housing affects everything else, so make and keep housing affordable.
  • Discover how we can organise effective transport. Decide on the roles for vehicles (if any) in a city,
  • Discover how our comprehensive rules and regulations become easily understandable.