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Report – Maximising the Smart Cities Opportunity: Recommendations for Asia-Pacific policymakers

Asian cities are facing pressing and complex challenges: reducing pollution and mitigating the consequences of climate change, efficiently managing economic resources, and improving the quality of life of citizens.  This report,  published by the GSMA, identifies seven key recommendations for municipalities looking to implement smart city solutions.

Internet of Things technologies and smart  city applications can generate substantial  socio-economic benefits for citizens and businesses  in Asia. Policymakers should make the most  of this opportunity, by designing and implementing  smart city projects with a long-term vision, that  are defined around citizens’ needs, are managed  through agile governance structures, are based on  open and scalable systems and promote a culture  of openness, innovation, and transparency.

Key recommendations

  1. Adopt an agile institutional framework and  governance mechanisms: A smart city needs an  institutional framework that ensures coordination  and support throughout the lifetime of each  project. The smart city agency will have to be  agile and, ideally, independent from traditional city  departments. It should, however, be accountable  to a governance body on which the city institutions  are represented.
  2. Appoint a CIO/smart city director with  strategic vision: A strong vision and strategy is key  to the success of smart city projects. A CIO/smart  city director should be a project leader with  cross-functional skills, capable of defining a  long-term strategy. Rather than focusing on  technology solutions, they will understand and  analyse the city’ s needs and requirements.  They will require appropriate authority to act  efficiently, will have concrete objectives, and will  be capable of bringing along those departments  resisting innovation and change.
  3. Communicate effectively smart city  project objectives and benefits: Establishing a  dialogue with the local community is essential to  ensure effective smart city services design and  functionality. Digital media can help involve citizens  in each step of the service lifetime and highlight  tangible benefits that a smart city project  will deliver.
  4. Promote technology investment in open  and scalable systems: A smart city should avoid  relying on proprietary technologies tied to a  single provider. Standards-based solutions are an  essential foundation for the long-term evolution of  a smart city. A city administration needs to think  strategically and identify synergies: a new smart  lighting system can be an opportunity to deploy  additional services that use the same light poles,  such as air pollution monitoring, the provision of  Wi-Fi or security cameras.
  5. Comply with privacy and security best  practice, rather than defining new service-specific  rules: To safeguard privacy and security, smart  cities need to draw on industry best practice  and comply with national laws. Having worked  extensively in these areas, the GSMA makes  available privacy tools, security guidelines and  check lists to policymakers and industry players.  Local city managers should resist the temptation  to define their own data privacy and security  standards for services they launch and adopt in  their own city.
  6. Make city data available to promote  transparency and stimulate innovation: Cities  generate a wealth of data related to transport,  to the environment, health, demographics, and  services accessibility. While protecting individuals’  privacy, city managers should look to make data accessible to promote transparency and stimulate  the creation of innovative services. Some cities  already have portals that make data available in  accessible formats.
  7. Explore new models of funding: Smart city  projects require significant initial investment.  Smart city managers should explore public-private  partnerships or alternative finance mechanisms,  such as municipal bonds, development banks or  vendor finance.

Download the report “Maximising the Smart Cities Opportunity: Recommendations for Asia-Pacific policymakers”