Since 2010 the discussion on SC – encouraged by e.g. EU funding programs – continuously increased. Definitions and funding thereby focus on the optimization of the existing to reduce current problems, of course in anticipation of future challenges. Is that smart or rather essential to survive?
Technology providers present their products and solutions on the growing number of exhibitions and conferences. But are their offerings really tailored to smart city or rather a relabeling of the existing? Isn’t the internet-ability and connectivity of their portfolio a must have in the product evolution – especially in times of commoditization?
Even the new creation of services we see in the context of smart city is targeted to optimize existing systems or improve the quality of citizen’s life. E.g. a mobility concept that enables the customer to commute from A to B in an environmentally friendly, cost- and time-efficient way is a solution within one segment. The use of smart meters to optimize load profiles, reduce cost and support decentralized power generation remains in one segment.
The tasks in the smart city context are set by municipal authorities and find their answers from industry with solutions based on silo-mentality.
So, real smartness starts when silos are set off. Based on my analyses of ~50 so called smart city projects in Europe, one can see, that this hardly happens. The reasons given in various interviews with city- and corporate representatives are the manifested organizational structures and incentive systems. Both are the result of continued specialization in all areas of our lives. Just recently I heard that the dome of the Pantheon in Rome was build 126 AD with 3 responsibles: The city representative, the architect and the builder. In 1999 the dome of the Reichstag in Germany was build with 32 specialits.‘
The more we specialize the harder it is to create solutions that are really smart.