Terms like smart city, smart government or smarter planet have been used over the last two or three years by several vendors to indicate a set of additional capabilities than governments should possess to make their jurisdictions more sustainable in economic, societal and environmental terms.
A working definition of smart city is provided in Gartner report Market Insight: ‘Smart Cities’ in Emerging Markets (login required):
What defines a smart city is its sustainable capacity over time to generate economic development. It is an urban area functioning and articulated by modern information and communication technologies in its various verticals, providing ongoing efficient services to its population
As part of my own research agenda I’ve decided to dive into what smart city or, more broadly, smart jurisdiction actually means. There are several reasons for this:
- To start looking at what comes after e-government and government 2.0, something I have dubbed “government 3.0″ in an earlier post
- To help our clients orient themselves among the multiple “smart anything” messages from several vendors
- To explore how technology can help combine financial and environmental sustainability in government planning and operations.
I am adding this area to my coverage for 2011 and beyond, and I want to start with a definitional note, which should be published by year end.
Crafting a comprehensive definition is a challenge, and one that we will face as part of our research. But what is most urgent right now is to identify the key dimensions that contribute to make a jurisdiction “smart”.
Dimensions that I will explore in the upcoming report are the following:
- Smart why: what are the key drivers and objectives (political, economic, financial, societal)?
- Smart who: is this concerning only specific government domains, or is this a government-wide initiative? Is this concerning only government or does it address and requires the collaboration of other industries too?
- Smart at what: what services, processes and operations are concerned?
- Smart where: does this address a single jurisdiction, or does it extend to other tiers?
- Smart when: what timeframe does this address? Planning, operations, both?
I am aware that this research will cut across multiple areas, including cloud computing, social software, integration between Information, consumer and operational technology, pattern-based strategies, consumerization, context-aware computing and more.
In fact the main challenge for smart government is indeed integration across multiple technologies, domains, planning horizons, responsibilities.
As I often tell vendors, the single most important problem (for them) with smart jurisdictions is that there is no single buying center. Some executives are interested in smart health, others in smart transportation, others in smart grid. But whereas everybody can see the value of integration, almost nobody is willing to pay for it.