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Smaller Cities can be Smart too

Schenectady, NY. An example of a small smart city.

Smart City initiatives are usually associated with major cities, like Barcelona, Amsterdam or London, or with burgeoning Asiatic metropolises eager to relieve the problems caused by rapid urbanization. However, there is no reason why smaller cities cannot be smart too. But being a smaller city comes with a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to applying smart city initiatives and solutions.

Smaller cities -and counties- face the challenges of limited resources, fast-moving technology, a confusing vendor ecosystem, obstacles from either the state or federal level and competition from the biggest cities, which are leaping ahead of the pack in smart technologies, data collection and data analysis.

On the other hand, according to Xavier Hughes, ICMA’ s chief technology and innovation officer and a veteran of the Obama administration, smaller cities also enjoy a number of significant advantages over larger competitors. Currently lacking advanced technologies and infrastructure often means that it’ s easier to replace current infrastructure. In addition, smaller cities can avoid the higher level of public pressure and constant vendor pitches faced by bigger cities, and thus have greater latitude in their decision-making even if they have less money and fewer resources.

Whether smaller or bigger, however, cities must be ready to adopt the new technologies and, after that, have a large-scale plan for how these technologies will generate data and transform services and life. For example, smart parking meters will not make the city itself smart if they’ re just replacing existing parking meters. In order to do so, and “smarten up’ the city itself, the data acquired by this technology must be put in use in order to alleviate traffic congestion, or for some other use. Such solutions can comfortably fit within a smaller city’ s budget, and the process of integrating them in the city might be actually easier for a smaller city size.

The original article can be found on SmartBrief.