How to confront Smart Cities challenges

Smart Cities are a growing trend, operating through an enabling platform that provides advanced services for entities and residents, helping to close the digital divide and provide a better quality of life for all.

In this article, we will tell you what challenges may stand in their way and how Smart Cities can address them to benefit all parties involved.

 

What is its purpose?

The objective of the Smart Cities is to promote basic infrastructure and offer a dignified quality of life to its citizens, a sophisticated security system, a clean and sustainable environment and the application of ‘intelligent’ solutions that improve the operation and efficiency of the city.

Cities use these kinds of tools to collect real-time data on all kinds of things, including traffic, air and water quality, and solar radiation. With this information, the government can take immediate action by solving problems and even anticipating city councils or businesses.

Some of the most common smart city projects include smart lighting, smart transportation systems, and smart utility metering for electricity and water.

However, each city and each stakeholder has unique requirements and different interpretations of implementation concepts. This poses several challenges in making these cities a reality.

 

Challenges presented

  • Lack of funds: As cities seek to improve their infrastructure with smart technologies, paying for such projects presents a major challenge when introducing smart technologies on a large scale. Securing funding to start the project and ensuring that there are sufficient resources to sustain the project over time requires significant investment.
  • Governance: the implementation of these large-scale projects involves a long series of legislative and policy agreements. The need to have private or associative actors collaborate in the financing of the projects creates an additional layer between the citizenry and the traditional actors in the city administration. This adds even more bureaucratic processes and possible conflicts of interest between existing intelligent city systems.
  • Lack of infrastructure and labor: urban infrastructure plays a crucial role in Smart City projects. Depending on the existing infrastructure in energy, water and transportation systems, among others, a project may be formulated requiring more or less investment time. In addition, skilled labor is needed to transform urban infrastructure into Smart infrastructure, which requires even more time and investment.
  • Digital security: in intelligent cities, the interrelationship between public and private is possible thanks to the flow of data. This flow must be fluid and efficient, but possible cybersecurity and privacy failures must be controlled in addition to framing the principles of respect for privacy and personal freedom. If the frequency of data reading of individuals with which all aspects of the city are measured allows for the reconstruction of the privacy of people’s lives, this innovation presents an evident risk in terms of respect for personal freedom.
  • Culture, do they adapt to the context of each city? There is no formula for all cities, each one has a different culture and operation so it is necessary to adapt. Not all cities have the same level of development, infrastructure and funding policies, so technology adoption may vary in different ways. This means that it is not always possible to rely on other proven smart city projects to act as a model for the success of others.
  • Public mistrust: There is general confusion about what smart cities are supposed to be. This confusion clouds the public’s understanding of the advantages that smart cities offer. The result is fear and mistrust, which inhibit municipalities from implementing meaningful and beneficial reforms. Citizens are concerned about the unknown, especially for reasons such as the privacy of their personal data or the feeling of being constantly monitored.
  • Network connectivity and data capacity: Due to the increasing volume of sensors and their data, robust connectivity technology is a requirement for success. Many major city networks do not provide enough coverage to support even the simplest smart city applications. Without powerful city-wide coverage, the success of such a project is more than unlikely.
  • Stand-alone solutions: There is still a lot of information and knowledge missing on how to become a Smart City, because the key is interoperability. In a Smart City, everything must be interconnected and all parties must work together. The involvement of different actors in these projects creates the need for common platforms between partners to facilitate data exchange and effective communication that benefits cities.

 

How to respond to the challenges?

Organisational changes

Constrained by tight budgets, cities need to identify business models that will attract private funding for public-private partnerships and make the introduction viable and fundable.

In addition, a change in the traditional management style of city administrations must take place. This new style must introduce open collaboration, process standardisation and data exchange between municipal bodies.

By aligning the city’s multiple departments and stakeholders on a common ground, and enabling interoperability and data exchange between them, more efficient communication will be achieved and both financial and bureaucratic bottlenecks will be reduced, allowing smart cities to achieve their goals.

Investing in infrastructure

Smart city technology can provide city governments with a large infrastructure pool to help them withstand and overcome problems like those of today in the future. Investing in professionals with expertise in the different areas and training them specifically for smart infrastructure projects will enable them to develop a successful Smart City.

On the other hand, an increasing investment must be made in sensoring the different parts of the city and companies to obtain the data, since robust connectivity technology is a requirement for the success of the Smart City project. For this reason, it is necessary to invest in a solution that allows you to manage all this data efficiently.

Study the situation of each city

It is important not to rely on other proven smart city projects to act as a model for success. A thorough study of each individual city and a customised project must be done to understand and meet the unique needs of each city.

Transparency with the citizens

In order to gain trust from citizens, they must be involved in what is happening at each moment, the benefits it will bring and the changes they will witness. Transparent rules created with the guidance of experts and the community must be established that protect the privacy, security and fairness of citizens. Having full transparency of the project is the starting point for gaining their trust.

Smart Cities are the future

Smart Cities seek to improve people’s lives in such basic areas as policy efficiency, reducing waste and everyday problems, improving social and economic quality, and maximising the social inclusion of their inhabitants. But for this to happen, an informed and prudent path must be laid out to become a truly intelligent city.

City-wide coverage and reliability is the key to launching any successful smart city program. There are already many cities, such as Oslo or New York among them, that have made great progress in terms of supportive policies, digital security and improved connectivity. But there is still a long way to go.

 

Your way to becoming a Smart City with Nexus Integra

Nexus Smart City is a solution that allows centralised management of all city services, so that it becomes a safe, connected and sustainable environment.

It facilitates the visualisation, analysis and management of the services of your city and/or intelligent building in an integral way so that you develop a modular and scalable system that is capable of covering any need.

Some of its benefits are the following:

  • Improve the quality of life of citizens.
  • Increase efficiency and sustainability.
  • Work with an open and interoperable platform.
  • Involve all city agents: Hospitals, Schools, Transportation, IT Departments, etc.

Contact us and solve all your doubts. We will advise you on the implementation of Nexus Smart City.

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