Mischa Dohler, Chair Professor at King’ s College London and co-founder of Worldsensing, a company providing smart city sensing solutions, shared some hands-on experiences which he gained traveling around the world, knocking on the doors of cities and infrastructure providers, with the aim to generate business for Worldsensing.
During these travels, he figured there are roughly 3 types of cities: 1) ROI-driven; 2) carbon-driven; 3) vanity-driven. As for 1), the aim of rolling out smart city technologies is to generate income which pays for its deployment and more. There are many cities in the western hemisphere which fall into this category, such as Los Angeles, London. As for 2), the aim here is to reduce the carbon footprint and ideally become carbon neutral long-term. These are mainly cities in Middle and Northern Europe, such as Luxembourg, Helsinki, etc. Finally, “vanity’ driven cities are mainly driven by events where the entire world is watching and they want to be perceived as “modern’.
The sales pitch in all three city types is of course very different. Take the example of smart parking, which is one of the product lines of Worldsensing: in 1), they sell the business process behind the system which is able to spot infringers who have not paid their parking ticket; our ability to guide people to vacant parking spaces was rarely discussed during the sales meetings. In 2), they sell the ability of the system to guide drivers quickly to an empty parking spot or advise drivers that certain areas are completely full, thus reducing unnecessary traffic, traffic jams, and thus pollution. Our ability to fine citizens had to be kept very quiet. In 3), whilst budgets are often not a problem here, the deployment rarely went through public procurement which required a technical and vision alignment with the prime partner for the smart city project.
Based on these insights, Mischa Dohler shared around 10 major challenges we faced, as well as some recommendations on how to go about them.
See also: Worldsensing Smart City Solutions