Why a smart, connected and thriving future is in our sights

A smart city is a complex organism of people, governments and organisations that requires holistic solutions — which is why Council Global Lead Partner Hitachi and the Smart Cities Council brought together a group of experts in March to explore the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The forum explored a host of challenges, from the fear of the ‘smart tech unknown’ to scaling supply chain opportunities. We discussed data contracts and building trust, harnessing the potential of City Deals and how to hardwire smart cities into planning, business cases, procurement and delivery processes.

At the centre of the discussion was unanimous agreement that catalysing smart cities will not occur without community engagement. This demands more than digital technology and product innovation. Advocates must clearly articulate how smart cities create economic and social value.

How can a smart city make our lives better? How can it improve access to opportunities, encourage social inclusion and enhance liveability? Smart cities champions must address these questions first and foremost.

We must also articulate the difference between a “high-tech” city and a smart city. Smart cities aren’t chock-full of technology at the expense of human beings, the dialogue participants agreed. At the heart of any smart city is a commitment to fostering human connections.

Our dialogue participants argued that stewardship from large companies is essential. Innovative start-ups might have a great idea, but they don't have the capacity to work at the often glacial pace of governments. But large corporations can use their influence to bring together an ecosystem of stakeholders to help governments seize the opportunities.

As Anand Singh, Executive Director, Hitachi Australia, said "Shared value can only occur in an environment where everyone works together — industry, government and the community. We cannot do this alone.”

Smart Cities Council and Hitachi see the roundtable as the start of a new collaborative model.

A next step for the Council is exploring a potential smart cities code of conduct, which will be debated and dissected when the industry's leaders head to Sydney for Smart Cities Week, from 29-31 October 2018. Join us: www.smartcitiesweek.com/2018-australia

Download the report, "Roundtable on the future of cities: Smart, connected and thriving," here.