Smart city start-up Hawa Dawa uses high-resolution environmental data to improve the air quality and livability of cities. Based on her experience, Head of Sales, Janina Stork, is well-positioned to provide insights into the complexity of transforming a traditional city into a smart city.
As the smart city sector is highly fragmented and lacks comprehensive strategies, real change has been slow to take hold. In order to speed up the process and foster a digital mindset, Janina Stork proposes a 3-step strategy toward developing a smart city.
3-step strategy for the transformation to a smart city
1. Define the purpose: First, it is important to be absolutely clear on the aims of the transformation. What problems does the city want to solve? Only once this question is answered, it is possible to derive a coherent strategy. In all of this, it is essential not to lose sight of the fact that the transition to a smart city is not about quick fixes, it’s about using technology to solve problems, sustainably and strategically.
2. Take responsibility: The comprehensive smart city strategy and its various technologies need to be coordinated by a single central figure (CDO, CIO or smart city manager), who can ensure that all systems dovetail efficiently and that relevant technologies are tested and permanently integrated into urban processes. This requires open and constructive collaboration from planning to implementation. Only under these conditions can pilot projects be deemed relevant and worthy of investment.
3. Co-creation: All stakeholders need to clearly understand and support the strategy and its aims. It is only when municipal agencies, administrations, offices and their employees appreciate the goals of the smart city transformation and work together to achieve them that the necessary resources and synergies can be mobilized.
The prerequisite for this is a holistic approach – away from the ring-fenced responsibilities of individual offices and ministries and towards a more unified approach, which could be based on the agile, product-oriented practices of software companies, in which all teams are geared to the same set of objectives. Once in place, these practices create a solid foundation for each step in the transformation to a smart city.
Only the right strategy can make the transition to a smart city a success
The smart city concept is based on a holistic approach. Cities cover only 2% of the earth’s surface, but are responsible for 95% of all emissions – with serious consequences for the entire planet. That’s why the right approach is crucial for sustainable change, which if successful, will ensure higher productivity, improved health and better quality of life for city dwellers.
Hawa Dawa shows how cities can be analyzed and positively transformed thanks to smart solutions. The environmental data the company collects, in this case primarily data on air quality, are a key element for enabling decisions. These data provide a completely new understanding of the city based on its air quality – and thus create a valid basis for innovative and strategic approaches.