Learn how a city can begin the hard work of developing a smart city strategy.
- Let me take a few moments to discuss the potential high-level planning steps for developing a smart city. A smart city is not a single or small collection of projects. Ideally, a smart city begins with a vision. It's an essential first step, because it will guide every decision that comes next. It is also an essential vehicle to create alignment with a large group of stakeholders and to attain agreement on purpose and desired outcomes.
It will help to clarify at a high level what must remain the same and what must change. In many ways, the envisioning exercise is one of the hardest phases of creating a smart city strategy. At this point, a team has articulated a bold future state and gained agreement from a large set of stakeholders. The vision identifies the strengths of the city, the areas that should continue as is, and the key areas that need to change to accommodate the needs of the future.
It's time to move from the vision to beginning the process of articulating the work ahead. The complex work of creating a smart city from the vision will involve a master plan with a large number of objectives. Objectives will lead to projects that will ultimately result in reaching your vision goals. I recommend assigning teams to each goal. Team members should be diverse but certainly include subject matter experts. Teams should report up to some form of decision authority such as a steering committee.
Many objectives can be determined, but they will need to be reduced to a manageable number. Objectives will become projects, so dependent on capacity and funding, effort must be made to ensure that this strategy is achievable. This may be a good opportunity to determine a prioritization process. Strategic planning is a stepwise process. Each step builds on the previous. Importantly, later steps must be able to be traced backwards to source.
For example done right, any stakeholder should be able to understand the genesis of a parking space finder app by tracing it back through the strategy. This is also a validation mechanism. If a project cannot be easily traced back to the strategy, this could sometimes happen as a strategic plan becomes large and complex, then it may call for an analysis of validity. A project without a clear strategic alignment and a measurable contribution to goals may likely be unnecessary.
I think we'd agree it's best to know that prior to starting the project. The strategic plan for a smart city should not be a 300-page document. In fact, great strategic plans are best when they are just a few pages. It should be just enough to communicate the vision, the objectives, timelines and desired outcomes with high-level metrics. The plan should also not be written in stone. It must evolve as circumstances change.
By the way, this is good advice for any strategic plan.
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