by Ferzad Bharuch, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Hexagon Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial (SIG)
People often associate smart cities with IoT and apps, and for good reason – IoT-powered real-time monitoring of assets, infrastructure, flow of people and goods in cities is crucial to understanding and improving services.
While resident and visitor-focused apps are important to delivering a positive customer experience.
In recent years the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication has recognised the importance of smart city technologies by offering $50 million to its Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.
This investment supported the delivery of innovative smart city projects that improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities and towns across Australia.
Success in smart cities is built on effective collaboration: sharing IoT and other data between diverse departments and organisations, and then working together by using that data, and meeting citizen requests, to provide better services and support for comprehensive public safety.
Unfortunately, collaboration is often the hardest part – a lot harder than deploying sensors or building apps.
Many organisations give up on the idea of intra-organisational or inter-organisational collaboration because of past data sharing implementation failures, whether from IT not living up to expectations or cost overruns.
Even more challenging than the IT systems are the non-technical barriers. For instance, data privacy is a huge issue and varies by country and region, showing that finding a balance between data sharing and privacy is no easy task.
City leaders also need the right regulatory and legal guidance for undertaking new and transformative efforts.
Historically, the lack of smart city regulatory frameworks have been major obstacles for a wider adoption of smart city services in practice, and whenever innovation and transformation come into play, there are concerns about employee readiness and training.
In the US, the federal government recently reintroduced the Smart Cities and Communities Act to deal with some of these concerns and promote the use of smart city technologies in the US.
Authorising $1.1 billion in spending over five years, the legislation aims to address a wide range of issues, including enhanced federal coordination, efforts to make technology more accessible in suburban and rural areas, increased workforce skills training, improved cybersecurity and goals to foster international collaboration and trade in smart city technologies.
While support like this would be welcome in Australia and can help to reduce real barriers to oversight, funding and training, it may not be enough; organisations need to embrace a culture of collaboration internally, to knock down barriers.
It’s important to make collaboration a priority, so it can be achievable – we all talk about breaking down silos in terms of IT and data, but the biggest silos to break down involve legacy ways of working, like the attitude of, ‘We’ve always done it this way’.
This traditional way of thinking doesn’t work in an age of smart cities, digital transformation and new and increasing citizen and customer expectations.
However, with a commitment to overcome both the IT and organisational hurdles, cities can create connected communities that collaborate around data to solve problems, whether for ad-hoc, routine or emergency-driven situations.
This approach not only supports the IoT and app investments already being made, but it also makes overall smart city programs more substantive and impactful.
With the right mix of external support and internal commitment, city departments will be able to transform data and domain knowledge into collaborative ecosystems, so they can quickly sense, decide and act as the city grows – which is surely the smart way to manage a city.
Are you ready to re-imagine collaboration? Find out more about HxGN Connect, Hexagon’s new cloud-native, SaaS collaborative workspace.
This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by Hexagon, for more information go to https://www.hexagonsafetyinfrastructure.com/