smart city infographic

April 20, 2018 | By Mark Matijevic


I love the concept of a smart city. A city which uses data collected in an automated fashion to make good decisions, which will:
  • Improve the quality of life of its people
  • Improve the efficiency of the council
  • Enable the council to better engage with the community and respond more nimbly to changing needs.
Creating smart cities and smart communities is a compelling idea, but the notion is losing value as the investments made by the community are not achieving their goals.

Sick of the hype

I have recently spoken to a number of councils who are sick of the hype. They love the concept and the marketplace has served up many ways to collect data but hasn’t provided a way to produce actions with that data or join up all the data collected to make good decisions.

The technology that is now available will allow a council to collect data on traffic movements, pedestrian movements, water and air quality, length of grass, rubbish status, etc. However, these are not joined up and do not provide the “big data” insights that other industries serve up. This ability adds value to council operations but does not deliver to the full potential.

The problem with smart city solutions is that they are leveraging all the new technology but ignoring the traditional data that a council holds. This includes property, licencing, permits, assets, work orders, capital projects, maintenance projects, waste removal, infringements, animal licencing, zoning, etc. This information is the static data that will make the environmental data, collected by Internet of Things (IoT) devices, usable by creating a joined-up set of data.

Need for open enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems

The reason all this valuable data is ignored is due to the fact that the ERP solutions that are used by councils are not open and cannot always connect to the latest technology available. They do have connectivity through some application programming interfaces (APIs), which are parts of a program that allows third parties to access, but these are small in numbers and not well documented.

We need to create ERP systems as the central brain of a council. The ERP stores the core data in much the same way our brain stores information. The IoT sensors, as well as, other connected solutions, are like nerves, which transmit useful data to the brain. The brain can then analyse and interpret this information to take action, make decisions, and communicate based on a full understanding to the right stakeholders.

Smart city concepts need to get back on track and we need to stop trying to work around the lack of connectivity to the core data of council. The open technology (native cloud) is available now, and there are companies already investing in this technology. So, let’s address the issue head on and start achieving the type of results that new technology can provide and join up all the data collected by councils and reach those community goals. Then we can fix the problems and smart cities will stop being just about the hype and start being a reality.
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