Cities across the globe have already implemented any number of smart city solutions, leveraging IoT technology to connect everything from public transport to healthcare to waste management. But unlocking the full potential of a smart city remains a challenge. To be truly successful and to fully reap the benefits of IoT, smart cities cannot simply adopt digital technologies in silos – they need to leverage and combine the strengths and diverse capabilities of their different departments across the entire smart city ecosystem.

To avoid the myriad challenges silos bring, it’s important that cities create transparency between various city services. Too many teams still operate in solos as they manage various needs such as traffic, utilities, power, water, and parking. Each of these departments generate massive amounts of data – and IoT technology can enable each area to increase productivity, improve processes, and leverage that data to allow for better decision making and cross-departmental collaboration.

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Chaotic, siloed planning and development, outdated policies, strategies, and infrastructure – all of these contribute to wasted time, money, resources and energy.

The good news is that many cities are working to remove barriers to a truly connected smart city. The result is a collaborative approach that leverages IoT to mitigate risk and optimize assets, resulting in improved systems and enhanced quality of life.

Here’s what breaking down the silos could mean in practice: imagine a driver on his or her daily commute. They are stuck in traffic and wondering why. Suddenly, they are alerted by the city of an accident 20 km down the road. They are also given information on alternative routes, which allows them to quickly adjust their plans and make it to work on time.

Now let’s add some more to that picture. By leveraging IoT and related technology, the driver isn’t the only person alerted to that accident. First responders and people working with public safety and public works are also notified, oassengers using public transport are alerted and nearby police officers are quickly re-routed and re-assigned.

Suddenly, through IoT, you have all interested parties mobilized and aware and a potentially difficult situation is brought under control much more quickly. Additionally, data from the incident can be utilized to understand if the place of the accident is one where accidents happen regularly. Data can also be used to measure response times and how systems are working.

Another scenario could involve a big event in your city, such as a sporting event or a concert. By connecting your various systems and departments and sharing information, traffic lights and public transport can be coordinated with event timings to help manage and disperse crowds in a safe and efficient manner. Connected parking spaces can help people easily identify where to park through an app, while an integrated cashless payment system can ease processes.

So, how do you develop a truly cohesive smart city that is responsive and integrated? While the best advice is to integrate your solutions right from the start, that might not be possible, given that many cities already have smart city solutions up and running.  No matter what stage your smart city is at, collaboration between the various players across the smart city is pivotal in developing the right suite of smart solutions to meet the unique needs of your city.

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Interoperability is a key factor in successfully removing Smart City silos.

Linking legacy systems, including IT systems, with IoT sensors and data architectures is crucial. It’s also important to not see implementing IoT purely in terms of just technology. Implementing IoT is also an operational transformation that will impact a wide range of stakeholders, even if they are not directly involved. And don’t forget about data: know how you’re going extract, analyze, and store data. You may not be using all of the data right away for things like AI, but you may want to in the future, so have a plan.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does ‘smart’ look like/mean for your regions?
  • Which smart solutions will solve which challenges – and how can they work in harmony?
  • Which technologies, policies, and strategies will be needed?
  • How will you finance your projects?
  • How will you address security?
  • How will intelligent systems work together across departments and even with other regions?
  • How will you measure outcomes for different stakeholders?

At the end of the day, employees will come and go, so developing an interconnected, interoperable smart system that is built to last will benefit both the city and any future employees in the long run. Historical data will be crucial to future city planning, as well as key to continued optimization and improved efficiency across the smart city ecosystem.

If you would like to learn more about how Tele2 IoT can help you integrate your Smart City solution, please get in touch.

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