Taking action

Cities need a firm, detailed plan of action if they expect to conduct successful project deployments that contribute to their livability, workability and sustainability. Much of the discussion above contains recommendations and guidance for how cities can take action that will truly benefit their citizens. Key points from that discussion and additional guidelines are listed below.

Conduct a thorough assessment of existing telecommunications infrastructure.

Determine which of the broad range of telecommunications options are interoperable with legacy systems that will remain in place.

Preliminary strategic planning should consider how a telecommunications upgrade can improve operations for as many city departments and services as possible.

Ensure that project planning addresses demonstrable benefits for the largest number of citizens possible.

Ensure that citizens and all stakeholders are engaged from the very beginning. Major investments demand transparency.

Telecommunications networks are expensive investments. Explore policy models that have been shown to drive investment and growth.

A strong business case is an essential element in smart city project planning. Even investors who understand the smart cities mission may be reluctant to finance a project if it includes technologies without a proven track record or if it doesn't include potential revenue streams.

To follow on that note, cities also should be able to provide prospective investors with details of the measures they would use to contribute to project funding and how they would meet investors' return on investment requirements.

Investigate potential grant or loan funding from federal and state agencies.

Seriously consider siting ordinances that shorten and/or simplify time-consuming review processes.

Project planning should recognize the importance of flexibility, the willingness to change course to accommodate citizens' changing needs and demands. It also should be future-proofed to allow for evolving or new technologies such as 5G, IoT and autonomous vehicles.

Planning also should evaluate whether a small, scalable (for example, neighborhood or district) pilot project or a citywide deployment is the most practical, cost-effective and efficient approach.

City leaders should communicate with their counterparts in other cities in the region to determine if they are considering similar projects. That coordination and collaboration between cities with aligned goals could be cost-effective when negotiating with vendors and investors.


Endnotes

  1. Intel white paper, Realizing the Benefits of Broadband
  2. Connect Michigan white paper, Broadband's Economic Impact in Michigan
  3. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) January-June 2015, Early Release of Estimates
  4. Intel white paper, Realizing the Benefits of Broadband.
  5. Park Associates and AARP, Caregiving assistance needs survey
  6. Gartner Inc. news release, Connected things market forecast