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10 Drivers of Smart City Planning in 2015

A government advisory firm presents its top 10 imperatives and predictions to help local governments stay abreast of smart city business and technology requirements, the Internet of Things and resilience among them.

The evolution of technology and local government will be centered on helping municipalities keep pace with the speed and magnitude of change and heightened operational flexibility in 2015 and beyond, according to researchers from IDC Government Insights.

Analysts from the IT advisory and market intelligence firm delivered those comments and more on Wednesday as a part of the Worldwide Smart Cities 2015 Predictions presentation. IDC's top 10 list of imperatives spotlighted the maturity of smart cities, expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), increased emphasis on resilience and a need for innovative IT sourcing techniques through 2018.

The top 10 list includes:

  1. Smart city maturity – cities will seek performance standards to benchmark and track their progress.
  2. Emerging economies – IDC expects smart city IT investment to grow significantly, driven by innovations in China, India and the Gulf states investment in high-tech infrastructure.
  3. Internet of Things – By 2018, researchers believe local government investment in IoT initiatives will represent more than 25 percent of all government external spending in the area.
  4. Resilience – Severe weather concerns will drive collaboration between public safety and sustainability programs, including a 30 percent hike in urban predictive IT investments by 2018.
  5. Sourcing innovation – IDC sees new tech procurement techniques generating a 25 percent growth in collaborative city operations over the next few years.
  6. Civic clouds – Nearly one-fourth of cities will be using shared cloud services for data management by 2018.
  7. Third platform architecture – Seventy percent of city CIOs will lack an information architecture strategy for cloud, analytics and connected devices in 2015.
  8. Data strategy – IDC predicts that 25 percent of mid-size cities should have “whole-of-city” data and analytic strategies rolled out in the next three years.
  9. Chief digital officers – The number of chief digital officers should grow fivefold in cities and counties by 2018.
  10. Civic tech – U.S. state and local governments will invest approximately $6.3 billion in civic engagement technologies in 2015.
Ruthbea Clarke, research director of IDC Government Insights, said a surprising finding was the impact severe weather and climate change will have on municipalities. She expects weather planning will play a sigfnicant role with city IT planning and technology investments in the future.

Clarke's colleague, Gerald Wang, research manager of IDC Government Insights, agreed and predicted that severe weather patterns would drive collaboration between cities, resulting in a more proactive approach.

“[Cities] need to leverage predictive and intelligent response technology,” Wang said. “Computational modeling to help public safety responders and cities prevent and mitigate damage to property and people.”

In addition, Clarke said she felt social media will have a much bigger impact beyond public safety use in the years ahead. Primarily, IDC sees social media as a keystone to a city's reputation, particularly as citizens and tourists comment about what they see in an area.

In regard to the Internet of Things, Clarke recommended that cities appoint a leader who can align IT and business units to best use data. IDC also noted that municipalities should take advantage of “early wins” such as streetlight automation and garbage bin monitoring to set the groundwork for benefits realization and process change.

Wang discussed IT procurement, and the need for expanded and innovative tech purchasing strategies. He said public-private partnerships would be the catalyst to drive new IT sourcing models and encouraged cities to explore pre-procurement mechanisms and direct contracting, particularly for prototypes or first-in-the-world solutions.

Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines from 2011 to mid-2015.