U.S. Cities Need the Private Sector's Help Cutting Red Tape Off Smart-City Initiatives

There are enormous growth opportunities for companies able to help cities break down barriers and establish best practices for the use of IoT technologies.
By Laetitia Gazel Anthoine

As a result, the city now maintains and regularly updates an emptying and maintenance schedule. They know which garbage cans require servicing several times a day, and how increased foot or vehicle traffic to specific areas will impact that schedule. This ensures all cleaning and maintenance work is done on demand and in budget. (Source: Deutsche Telekom.)

That's just one example of the remarkable progress scities around the world have made. In fact, 60 percent of the cities on Juniper Research's 2016 Smart City Rankings are based in Europe. Although Juniper awarded the top spot to Singapore, citing its status as a world leader in applying smart mobility policies and technology, Juniper also cites the city's fixed and cellular broadband services, city apps and strong open data policy.

"Congestion and mobility are almost universal issues for cities to address," Juniper's Steffen Sorrell stated in the firm's press release announcing the 2016 ranking. "When addressed effectively, the impacts are substantial: higher economic productivity, potential for new revenue streams and services as well as a measurable benefit in reduced healthcare costs."

Officials in Eurométropole de Strasbourg in 2012 launched the Connected City mobile service in France, creating a network of 1,400 city points of interest (i.e., libraries, tourist attractions, public buildings and bus stops) with Near Field Communication (NFC) tags and QR codes. Residents and visitors use their mobile devices to access real-time, hyper-contextualized information related to near-by city points of interest, upcoming concerts and other cultural events, and so forth.

Cities across the country are collecting ever-growing volumes of data. But too often, their progress is slowed by factors including what the NLC refers to as "functional silos," an inability to facilitate cross-sector collaboration, and political gridlock. They need help getting their programs off the drawing board and out of pilot stages. This presents enormous growth opportunities for companies that are able to help cities break down these barriers and establish best practices for the use of IoT technologies and the construction of high-speed communications networks.

Laetitia Gazel Anthoine is the founder and CEO of Connecthings.

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