Smart City Panel Reveals a Major Challenge to Implementation

by Oct 1, 2014Smart Cities

Roberta Gamble

Roberta Gamble directs the Energy & Environment team for Frost & Sullivan in North America. She works closely with major energy-related companies to guide the direction of the group. She also manages consulting projects and customized client research. Previous experience includes management of the financial and business aspects of gas turbine power plant commissioning and construction.


Who will you meet?

Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.

Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.


 

Smart Cities are a great, burgeoning opportunity for all manner of vendors, from broad-smart-city-wide solution providers to small single-person start ups that leverage ever increasing data from city-based sources. It’s an exciting area that some companies are even strategizing around – building a value proposition around cities instead of specific vertical industries or countries. However, this growing opportunity is not without pitfalls and challenges, no doubt more than what can fit in this blog post – however at our Frost & Sullivan Growth, Innovation, and Leadership event in Silicon Valley this month, we posed some of the top vendor concerns to cities that were on our Smart City panel. The results – granted, anecdotal – were rather surprising. Here are a few “assumptions” we’ve heard from major smart city service providers in our day to day activities, and the summarized responses from the smart city panel. Represented on the panel were CIOs and CTOs from San Francisco, Palo Alto, Portland (OR), and the state of Ohio: Assertion #1 – Since funding is always so tight in the public sector, what do cities prefer as a value proposition, something that is more comprehensive and perhaps delivered on a performance contracting basis, or a more piece-meal approach? Smart-CitiesResponse: The initial response to this question from the panel consisted of a moment of silence and a bit of blinking while the question was being processed. Not because it was difficult to understand, but because the underlying assumption – that cities are too cash-strapped for these sorts of expenditures – apparently was not accurate with the cities on the panel. Once the silence thawed, the consensus from the panel was that actually, cities have funds for this. In fact, it saves them money and time to have one vendor come and provide a more comprehensive solution across all relevant city departments rather than having numerous contracts. In the short term this may actually mean less revenue for the solution provider, however in the long term it means a stronger, and on-going, relationship with the city. The final verdict is, in short, yes funding exists, and yes make it comprehensive. Assertion #2 – If cities are willing and able to fund these programs, why aren’t they being sold at a comprehensive city-wide level? Response: Because, and this was another surprise to me, the cities on the panel are not being approached at a comprehensive level by suppliers.   As one person noted, a major IT company has an account executive sending him some emails about a defined and narrow option. Six others are talking to a number of other divisions across the city. To paraphrase our panelist “Send us an EVP with a broad value proposition and we’ll to talk about it over a cup of coffee…I’ll even buy the coffee.” Result? There is a disconnect between cities and suppliers, at least according to these cities. At least between the technically progressive cities on our panel, and broad-serving providers in the industry, companies are potentially leaving opportunities on the table. While based on a limited sample size, it is telling that some of the cities most associated with being tech-savvy do not believe they are being approached by large vendors with a consistent smart-city value proposition. I suspect the vendors reading this post will have a very different tale to tell about how their experiences with selling a smart city value proposition compares to the responses above. I’d love to hear from people from either side about their experiences, you can contact me through the information below. I’ll even buy the coffee. Roberta Gamble Frost & Sullivan Partner, Energy & Environment Roberta_gamble@frost.com

Discussion

Leave your comment below, or reply to others.

Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

Middle-Mile Networks: The Middleman of Internet Connectivity

Middle-Mile Networks: The Middleman of Internet Connectivity

The development of public, open-access middle mile infrastructure can expand internet networks closer to unserved and underserved communities while offering equal opportunity for ISPs to link cost effectively to last mile infrastructure. This strategy would connect more Americans to high-speed internet while also driving down prices by increasing competition among local ISPs.

In addition to potentially helping narrow the digital divide, middle mile infrastructure would also provide backup options for networks if one connection pathway fails, and it would help support regional economic development by connecting businesses.

Wildfire Risk Reduction: Connecting the Dots

Wildfire Risk Reduction: Connecting the Dots

One of the most visceral manifestations of the combined problems of urbanization and climate change are the enormous wildfires that engulf areas of the American West. Fire behavior itself is now changing.  Over 120 years of well-intentioned fire suppression have created huge reserves of fuel which, when combined with warmer temperatures and drought-dried landscapes, create unstoppable fires that spread with extreme speed, jump fire-breaks, level entire towns, take lives and destroy hundreds of thousands of acres, even in landscapes that are conditioned to employ fire as part of their reproductive cycle.

ARISE-US recently held a very successful symposium, “Wildfire Risk Reduction – Connecting the Dots”  for wildfire stakeholders – insurers, US Forest Service, engineers, fire awareness NGOs and others – to discuss the issues and their possible solutions.  This article sets out some of the major points to emerge.

Innovating Our Way Out of Crisis

Innovating Our Way Out of Crisis

Whether deep freezes in Texas, wildfires in California, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, or any other calamity, our innovations today will build the reliable, resilient, equitable, and prosperous grid tomorrow. Innovation, in short, combines the dream of what’s possible with the pragmatism of what’s practical. That’s the big-idea, hard-reality approach that helped transform Texas into the world’s energy powerhouse — from oil and gas to zero-emissions wind, sun, and, soon, geothermal.

It’s time to make the production and consumption of energy faster, smarter, cleaner, more resilient, and more efficient. Business leaders, political leaders, the energy sector, and savvy citizens have the power to put investment and practices in place that support a robust energy innovation ecosystem. So, saddle up.

The Future of Cities

Mayors, planners, futurists, technologists, executives and advocates — hundreds of urban thought leaders publish on Meeting of the Minds. Sign up to follow the future of cities.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Wait! Before You Leave —

Wait! Before You Leave —

Subscribe to receive updates on the Executive Cohort Program!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This