Frequent asked questions

Smart City consultants is a consulting firm specialized in designing and implementing new smart city strategies. We are independent consultants that support public organizations in the digitization of the public domain.

What is a smart city and how can you set it up? Our FAQ pages describes some of the common questions that we think you should know about. The answers should help your smart city project manage some of the common risks that we have seen in the past.

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Frequently asked questions about smart city projects

What is a smart city?

A Smart city is an ‘urban area’ that uses different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data and then use insights gained from that data to manage assets, resources and services efficiently.

Smart cities help societies in tackling socio-economical and environmental challenges in their urban areas. The usage of data helps it’s citizens in getting new insights as to how a city works and test which solutions are best suited to tackle the challenge at hand.

When is a smart city effective?

Smart Cities are effective when it has a positive impact on society.

To get impact you need to do the following:
1. Have a clear strategy.
2. Ensure good leadership for designing and implementing your concept.
3. Have a solid business cases with a clear objective and KPI’s.
3. Focus first on projects that are useful across different sectors.
4. Engage all your stakeholders.
5. Map which resources and skills are needed, before you start any pilot’s or living labs.

How can I design a framework that works best for my smart city project?

It depends on a lot of variables, but the most important one’s are:
1. The problem you want to solve.
2. What are the rules of business between stakeholders and partners.
3. Which approach is best for your initiative. Example approaches are the beta city, platform or anchor.
3. What infrastructure is in place or needed.

What are common policy models to use for technology projects in public spaces?

Most common usages are the explorative or practical models.

How can I stimulate innovation?

Create an environment where innovation is stimulated. To create the best environment for the development of Smart city you can use on of the following environments:
1. Open innovation model.
2. Living Labs.
3. Project-defined.

How can I manage smart projects

By monitoring the effectiveness smart city initiatives projects in your city.

The success of new smart city initiatives though assessing and re-adjusted your objectives continuously. You can manage your project by keeping track of the following verticals:
1. Business case.
2. Complexity of the solution.
3. Effect/ impact on the quality/ efficiency for client users.
4. Data sourcing.
5. Maturity of the solution.
6. Alignment / modularity – can we duplicate concept to other sectors/ departments.

How do I select an technology supplier?

Select transparent suppliers that are open sourced.

Selecting a technology supplier is dependant on:
(1) the complexity of the challenge you are trying to resolve and;
(2) the procurement policies that are in place by law or your company. 

The general rule of thumb is, the more complex and unknown the project is, the more likely you will have to make changes in your procurement requirements. This is because you cannot procure on price only. Therefore you first need to re-aligning your procurement policy to fit within the smart city procurement principles. Secondly make sure that the suppliers gives transparency on how the technology works. And finally make it incentive base to stimulate new innovations.

Which business models work for smart cities

There are some 55 general business models that are used by 90% of the most successful companies (Gassmann et al 2015). Some interesting models that you could explore for smart cities are the open source, auction, subscription (as-a-service) and design-build models.

To select a business model some of the most important questions to answer are:
1. Who are your end-users & stakeholders and what are their needs?
2. What is the value proposition and are there any similar solutions already on the market?
3. How can we organise the necessary resources to deliver the smart city concept?
4. Why is this concept import to the end-users and what is the benefit to society?
5. What risks you willing to take in getting the concept on the market?

The outcome of these questions will help determine which business models works best for your smart city concept.

What is a good strategy?

The best strategy is a clear and common set of objectives supported by all stakeholders. To make sure that your strategy is good, and all stakeholders understand it, consider the following points:
1. All stakeholders have the same vision/ goals in mind.
2. All stakeholders speak the same common language when discussing the smart city concepts.
3. All stakeholders support the choice of the business models used.

What are common mistakes with smart city projects?

Most common mistakes with these projects are:
1. Stakeholders don’t speak common language.
2. Smart concept is going to market too quickly (fast deadline). Therefore the end-user haven’t had enough time to get confident about the reliability and usefulness of the technology and data output.
3. Conflicts between departments about interpretation and outcomes of policy procedures.

How does the explorative model work?

The explorative model uses a smart city reference model. Where your focus lies at roadmapping technological innovations and the objectives you and the main stakeholders would like to achieve. Depending on your objective you will start new technology initiatives to explore new ideas and technology solutions.

How does the practical model work?

The practical model makes use of the Strategic Smart City Perspective. This model sets the actors objectives based on what technologies are already on the market.