As with digital transformation, we need to move beyond ‘doing’ smart to ‘being’ smart, says Ricky Morton, digital and transformation lead advisor for London Borough of Newham
As a long term advisor on digital transformation and smart city initiatives, my advice remains the same today as it’s always been. We need to be agile, smart and dedicated. We need to make the most of what we’ve got and embrace the best of what’s on offer. We need to view everything as an opportunity – even austerity. And we need to listen to our residents, our local businesses and our partners.
That’s not to say we’ll do everything they ask us to. But they are the communities we represent and the reason we are there in the first place. So the very least they deserve is a strong voice in the process of government at the local level.
Yet not only do we need to listen to our communities: we also need to listen to our ‘place’, by equipping our environment to take part in the civic conversation through intelligent use of the internet of things.
We need to hear what our landscape is saying to us to know how to take care of it and how to make best use of it. We need to build ‘Place as a Platform’ for ambition and aspiration, embedding digital innovation, connectivity infrastructure and data into the fabric of our boroughs as engines of change to drive economic growth, enable public service reform, deliver sustainable solutions and empower our communities.
To do so, we need to understand our place as much as we need to understand our people, so that we can embed smart city approaches to planning, transport, housing, waste, energy and water to better manage and sustain our environment.
Why? Because there are many technologies on the horizon offering new ways to manage, mitigate and monitor. Too many for us to use at any one time.
I don’t know what value will 5G and low power WANS will bring to our communities. But I do know that we’re working on that. On figuring out how to know. The Future Cities Catapult has committed to investing half a million pounds to form a network of pioneering local authorities seeking to understand and harness the benefits of next-generation 5G connectivity as a tool for income generation, local economic growth and public service innovation.
The Digital Catapult and the Things Network are leading with Things Connected, a free-to-use LoRaWAN network for the experimenting and prototyping of new IoT products and services.
We may not yet know the answers, but we know how to go about finding them.
And as with digital transformation, we need to move beyond ‘doing’ smart to ‘being smart’. Smart city approaches and the internet of things have to become how we do things. How we design services. How we make decisions. How we achieve outcomes.