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How Connected Cities Are A Platform For Innovation

In this article, Peter Madden, Chief Executive of Future Cities Catapult, explains UK’ s vision, challenges and opportunities in the smart city sector.

According to the author, urban innovators are increasingly thinking of the city not just in terms of place, but as a platform. Throughout history, cities have been crucibles of innovation because of physical concentration of people, the independence of spirit, and the creative collision of different backgrounds. Today, the connectivity revolution through which we are living offers new possibilities. Digital platforms are already changing the way we use our urban spaces: AirBnB for staying; Tinder for dating; Uber for moving. The next wave of transformative change may come from seeing the whole city as an innovation platform.

In this quest, a critical question might be: ‘˜How could we enhance our cities by overlaying a digital layer?’ This layer, spread over the physical, helps us to understand our cities better and create services that allow citizens to interact with the city – and each other – differently. It also gives the various organisations involved in making and running our cities the chance to integrate, to break down the silos, to design services in new ways that make sense for the 21st Century. Using digital in design, integration and maintenance, is a huge opportunity.

To harness this opportunity across whole cities, certain things need to be in place: (i) Digital innovators need city-wide connectivity, (ii) Data challenges related to transparency, interoperability, privacy need to be tackled, (iii) City administrators – or large-scale developers need to break out of their silos and become more alert towards changes and opportunities.

Ubiquitous connectivity is coming. It will change how our cities function. Rather than being disrupted and dislocated by this, city administrations should be harnessing the opportunity. By thinking of the city as a platform, providing connectivity, sharing data, and building capability they can leverage their physical assets, engage citizens as co-creators and be in better shape to face the challenges ahead.

Access the original article on Huffington Post by Peter Madden here.