Smart city projects require culture change and user adoption

Jacques Der-Ohanian
June 03, 2020

A smart city project can use innovation to set strategic priorities, increase process efficiency, improve transparency and boost the local economy.

I have been fortunate to participate in many smart city events over the years. My take-away from these events is that cities around the world are interested in increasing their sustainability, attraction and livability.

Today, smart city initiatives are one of the most important digital transformation undertakings in the public sector. As a cornerstone of a smart city project, technology is important as it addresses hot topics including, Internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), security breaches, and protocols, to name a few.

However, the success of a smart city initiative is highly dependent on end-user adoption and experience. That’s why cities are focusing on the citizens at the center of their projects. Understanding the services that citizens choose provides cities with experienced-based information. After all, if the citizens don’t adopt or use the services or apps, the entire project could be placed at risk, as well as public funding for future initiatives.

Woman at kiosk for blog post

Choose your battles

To achieve success cities need to have clear goals with measurable objectives. Whether you are targeting climate change, sustainable transition, social integration, health and education, participative governance and active citizenship, public safety, or tourism, you need to choose your battles to stay focused. Municipalities need to involve citizens, elected representatives and public sector employees to create a vision for their future city and help prioritize initiatives.

Culture and structure, more challenging than deployment

In my travels I’ve spent a lot of time talking to smart city project managers and I’ve learned that technology challenges are not the first challenges they encounter. Even before the complexity of integration begins there are long discussions about decision processes, public organization complexities, and organizational culture challenges that must be dealt with.

At ALE we believe collaboration tools can provide an entry way to digital transformation. And so, to address these challenges we’ve explored a number of ways to break down the silos between public services by using collaboration to make the move to a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Build on user adoption and experience

A solid understanding of citizens’ needs, simplicity of use, and good government-citizen communications can ensure the successful adoption of services and apps. These services and applications can:

  • Facilitate civic engagement, enable community influence in city decisions, and provide connection to elected representatives
  • Increase social connectivity and inclusiveness often lost with urbanization
  • Provide access to around-the-clock, on-line services to all (especially to vulnerable groups) 

We believe everything relies on easy connectivity. Being able to easily connect people, objects, algorithms and processes effectively is key in a smart city transformation. What is essential for any community is the ease of communication, by any means, whether it is integrated into business applications to help enhance public or security agents’ efficiency, or into citizens’ applications.

Digital tools such as Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow™ help ease communications and build a connected social community. As well, digitalization can improve overall safety with IoT and AI integration to provide enhanced notification speed and emergency response time. Making the move toward a digital government with a connected city can bring together citizens and public safety solutions to help anticipate emergencies.

Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) for smart cities provides a very simple way to integrate communications and enter the IoT-enabled communications paradigm. Development teams can connect to the Rainbow For Developers to easily create mock-ups, integrate proof-of-concepts into living labs, and ensure the new services address both citizens’ and agents’ needs. Proper testing and broadcasting can enable easier adoption by a wider population.

The numerous smart city solutions available today, as well as the need for interconnectivity across much broader areas add complexity to the smart city integration process. Selecting a vendor with expertise and experience gets your smart city project on the right track. With more than 100 years of experience in delivering technology solutions, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has provided resilient, real-time government solutions to assist hundreds of public administrations in their digital and cultural transformations.

Inclusiveness and collaboration can help attract creative entrepreneurs and new citizens to cities. Combining a variety of skills from a variety of stakeholders, as well as providing the ability to collaborate and innovate will help guide them toward a common future. How they co-create and co-experience new services through living labs can accelerate adoption and decision making as they embark on their new smart city.

Jacques Der-Ohanian

Jacques Der Ohanian

Senior Director, Head of Communications Vertical Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Jacques is Senior Director, Head of Communications Vertical Solutions at ALE. He is responsible for creating digital solutions to address needs in Education, Government, Healthcare, and Hospitality, as well as content creation to support sales. Jacques is a graduate of Telecom ParisTech, France.

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