Smart city collaboration: from abstract idea to reality

It is well known that smart cities must collaborate to be truly effective. However, moving collaboration from idea to reality has been challenging.

As we have witnessed with the recent coronavirus pandemic, events can be unpredictable and spontaneous. Despite the resiliency of cities, there is no standard operating procedure that addresses every situation. Smart cities must have avenues to quickly share critical information with key people and organizations regarding these unforeseen circumstances.

How can city organizations better collaborate?

For impactful collaboration, cities need shared awareness and coordinated action across diverse operational functions, organizations, and sectors. They must bridge gaps in information and communication and break down human and technology barriers from existing business systems.

The foundation for delivering this collaboration is through better data collection, monitoring, analysis, and sharing to enhance operations and planning and inform and engage the public. Technologies such as IoT, cloud services, and AI enable city departments to capture, leverage, and share a richer pool of information, as well as apply autonomous monitoring and analysis of event data for advanced event detection. When rolled up and communicated across organizations, the additional insights gained from this larger data pool can better qualify an alert or incident, and ultimately drive a more effective response because organizations can better coordinate.

Oftentimes, these events are sensitive situations and city governments may not wish to share information with the public until problems are resolved. To safeguard this data, smart cities should also employ data sharing rules for collaboration to ensure the right people have the right information at the right time.

What are the benefits of collaboration?

In terms of overall operations, these richer insights shared among relevant organizations provide a broader context to events, including better understanding of the nature and extent of an incident and the area affected. They also help stakeholders better understand and develop a sequencing of actions across all city service providers.

Beyond operations, deeper collaboration can also advance short- and long-term planning, from the planning of scheduled work to the prioritization of resources to achieve the highest benefit. All efforts can be coordinated and assigned across multiple departments, which streamlines efforts and potentially reduces costly redundancies and unnecessary errors. Furthermore, citizens of smart cities will ultimately benefit from a collaborative, municipal environment where all departments take on a role to ensure the best quality of life for its citizens.

Collaboration is the future

For many years, city leaders have understood that cross-departmental collaboration is vital to bringing a smart city to life. Thanks to new innovations, we are closer than ever to bringing it from abstract concept to reality.

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