How to define a Smart City

January 6, 2014

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In the past few months, we’ve been hearing in the BI team about Smart Cities. We can define a Smart City (according to Wikipedia) as efficiency based on the intelligent management and integrated ICTs (information and communication technology), and active citizen participation.

The term was initially presented to us through a company offering us a POC of a dashboard in SharePoint. They talked with us on what another city in Israel had monitored and talked with us on what was being done, in a very larger scale in New York:

We grew curious.

We saw an example of open municipal data in Florence which invites the public to learn about the environment in the city, mobility in the city and security and more. Opening up the data in an approachable way was also done for the Israeli Budget  by a group of citizens trying to make the budget the more understandable for all its citizens through charts. Last but not least, we also liked the Performance Management Dashboard Boston was doing – a scorecard on the city responsibilities varying from education to public health.

Most of these Smart City initiatives were giving the public access to data and inviting them to learn and judge what was being done around them. We started looking in a site specifically devoted to Smart Cities and saw that some of the cities were taking it to being pro-active about what can be done or changed in their city to elevate the living standard.

We tried to think what we could do for the residents of Tel Aviv Jaffa based on the data already stored in the BI DWH, and came up with this:

  1. We could also show the budget of the municipality in charts with a filter and a drill (up and down).
  2. We offered a scenario of focusing on all the streets where we knew we had a handicapped parking spot assigned. We could then check how many parking tickets were given on that street for parking in a handicapped place, and when they were given. Thus, hoping to help give a better and quicker service for the handicapped residents of the city, (not having to wait for a car illegally parking in their spot to be towed away).
  3. We offered a scenario of looking at businesses running in the city and seeing which of them were cutting back on store space (assuming this would be because business was running low). We then would cross reference that with stores that haven’t got a signpost (which each store needs to pay for to the municipality). If we would find a store cutting back without a signpost, as a matter of helping small businesses, we would suggest offering them to put up a sign for free for a few months. We also thought of collaborating between small businesses (a chocolate store and a florist for instance).
  4. We offered to study each year in each neighborhood what were the top 5 complaints from residents. Categorizing those complaint into sewage, road condition etc., we could fix the needed infrastructure rather than continually patching things up.

We had all these ideas, but as it goes, not all of them were picked up…

So I’m asking you, dear reader – what would you like to get from your municipality? Do you have an idea on how to get better service from your city? Want to make an offer on how to define a Smart City? If you want to make an impact, please leave your comments in the blog!

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