Seattle, USA – Cities around the world have a new ally in the fight to achieve prosperity and sustainability. More than a dozen top technology firms – including some of the world’s largest – have formed the Smart Cities Council to provide cities with tools and best practices.
Operating under the banner ‘Livability, Workability, Sustainability’, the Council has gathered together the world’s foremost firms in areas such as smart energy, water and transportation. These firms, which make up the Council’s Steering Committee, include Alstom, AT&T, Bechtel, Cisco, Electricite de France, General Electric, IBM, Itron, Microsoft, National Grid, Qualcomm, and S&C Electric.
Mayors and city leaders can tap into this global hub to develop a comprehensive and collaborative roadmap for their city, to gain advice on the most effective ways to move forward, and to compare notes with like-minded leaders.
“All over the world, rapid urbanisation is putting enormous stress on city resources and infrastructure,” explained founding Chairman Jesse Berst. “Cities are at a crossroads; many are nearing the point at which they could easily become overwhelmed by issues related to crime, congestion, and public health and safety. To prevent this, cities can use smart technologies not just to manage problems, but to usher in a new era of prosperity and sustainability.”
A “smart city” uses digital technology to deliver better, more efficient services to its citizens. It enables access to information via data collected from devices and sensors that are embedded in roadways, energy and water infrastructure, buildings and more. For example, smart power and water grids improve efficiency and reliability, as well as provide customers with detailed information to help them reduce their bills. Another example would be a smart transportation network which optimises multi-modal travel throughout the city with real-time bus updates, taxi locations, and the ability to reserve parking spots.
Thousands of smart city projects are underway around the globe, but major hurdles remain. Cities have significant questions and challenges with regard to the four chief barriers of technology, financing, policy, and citizen engagement.
The Council was formed to lower these barriers to adoption through education, outreach, and tools for cities. One of the Smart Cities Council’s first initiatives is the development of the ‘Readiness Guide’, which will be the first collaborative and comprehensive vision of a smart city. It will provide city leaders with a conceptual technology roadmap to address growth strategies in an effective and systemic way, focusing on key issues such as energy, transportation, water, and public safety. The content of the ‘Readiness Guide’ is greatly influenced by the expertise of the Council’s partners, as well as its Advisory Board, which is made up of independent experts from research, academia, and advocacy.
“Far too many cities are undertaking individual projects without an overall plan, and without considering the ways that different departments can share costs and data,” noted James Whittaker, Executive Director of the Smart Cities Council and a principal in Mercator XXI, a co-founder of the Council. “For the best results, it is essential to have a comprehensive, holistic vision — yet no such help exists today. The ‘Readiness Guide’ is the first-ever collaborative, comprehensive resource.”
The Council also has initiatives underway to address financing, policy, and citizen engagement. To accomplish these important but challenging tasks, the Council has marshaled the world’s leading authorities. “It takes an ecosystem to build a smart city,” said Berst. “We salute our member organisations. They have demonstrated that they are not just leaders in innovation, but also in collaboration.”