From smart data to smart people
As the UK seeks to rebalance its post-Brexit economy, city regions are potentially great engines for growth. With their devolved powers and responsibilities for public assets, new urban Mayors have a pivotal role to drive regional improvements.
But how best to do this in the ‘smart city’ era?
A vast and growing number of connected digital technologies, tools and techniques – the new, highly connected internet of infrastructure – stands ready to transform the way assets around us are planned, delivered and operated.
New internet of infrastructure tools will not only help maximise the efficiency of existing operations, even more importantly, they can help us understand the impact infrastructure has on users and better predict what services and investment will be needed in the future.
As the increasing use of data expands the frontiers of what’s possible, it’s easy to forget the most fundamental question: why?
This question informs everything else we do and defines our ability to connect with customers, build the right assets and deliver the full economic and social benefit that infrastructure investment promises.
In an urban design context, asking why we are creating a city in a particular way allows us to better answer the questions that follow, such as what kind of urban environment do 21st century citizens want and how can data support or steer our plans?
Citizen engagement as a major focus for smart cities
Connected technologies and the exploitation of data can substantially change the “terms of engagement” in the public debate about how much to invest, in what sort of infrastructure, where and for what purpose. This puts urban Mayors in a good place to guarantee the best outcomes for the customers, passengers and citizens of their communities.
But in a smart city of constantly changing consumer behaviour and expectations, a deep understanding of data and technology must be coupled with the ability to interpret and respond in a real environment with real people.
Services need to be designed to take account of the extra demand unlocked by the use of mobile devices.