With more and more places deploying technology to improve public services for their citizens, 40 cities, government organizations, telecoms and technology providers, trade associations and innovation agencies from around the world have come together to try and develop their smart city strategies under common principles and guidelines.
Their ‘City as a Platform Manifesto’, signed last week at the Smart City Forum in Yinchuan, China, promotes collaboration, openness and interoperability while also focusing on the end-user, the citizen.
All the signatories share a common desire to develop city-scale data economies that drive sustainability and inclusivity by using digital platforms, and have agreed to follow ten common principles when deploying city platforms to serve residents, local businesses and other stakeholders. These principles act as a guide to those setting public policy and a design philosophy to unite the many organizations involved in each smart city program, including large and small technology companies.
The ten principles are:
- Enable services that improve the quality of life in cities; benefitting residents, the environment, and helping to bridge the digital divide
- Bring together both public and private stakeholders in digital ecosystems
- Support sharing economy principles and the circular economy agenda
- Provide ways for local startups and businesses to innovate and thrive
- Enforce the privacy and security of confidential data
- Inform political decisions and offer mechanisms for residents to make their voices heard
- Involve local government in their governance and curation
- Platforms must be based on open standards, industry best practices and open APIs to facilitate a vendor neutral approach, with industry agreed architecture models
- Support a common approach to federation of data or services between cities, making it possible for cities of all sizes to take part in the growing data economy
- Support the principles of UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
“As the world’s population expands and cities become denser, smart city programmes are contributing to a better quality of life. However, technology by itself will not solve the challenges facing urban centers around the world. Instead a shared, collaborative approach between the public and private sectors is needed in the development of local data economies to create services that will improve lives,” said Carl Piva, VP and managing director of TM Forum, the organization which led this smart city initiative.
“In addition to a relentless focus on citizens, there is a huge untapped economic agenda to consider for city governments. According to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan, the smart city market alone is estimated to be worth 1.5 trillion USD by 2020. Cities are, and always have been, the largest marketplaces on earth, and the time is right for cities to also develop digital marketplaces that benefit people living in cities. Cities are where digital ecosystems collide,” Piva continued.
The manifesto has been signed by 40 major cities and government organizations including Atlanta, Belfast, Chicago, Dublin, Las Vegas, Leeds, Limerick, Liverpool, Medellin, Miami, Milton Keynes, Tampere, Utrecht, Wellington, Yinchuan, the European Commission; as well as global communication service providers and technology firms including Orange, Tele2, NEC; and associations and other institutions such as CABA, FIWARE Foundation, Fraunhofer, Future Cities Catapult, Leading Cities and the OASC.
The European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility is a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level. To grow data economies in cities the Commission recognizes the value of interoperability and common building blocks which is a key reason for its support of the manifesto.
Martin Brynskov, chair of Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) said, “At OASC, we know that a thriving global market, that really caters for local needs, is only wishful thinking without a strong common ground: open standards, open APIs (application programming interfaces), open architectures. We support TM Forum’s focus on the city as a platform because of their deep commitment to these principles.”
Interoperability is also key to the FIWARE Foundation, its CEO, Ulrich Ahle, said, “Open standard APIs are crucial to foster a sustainable investment by solution providers, particularly SMEs and startups, who can target a digital market where their solutions can be interoperable with others’ and portable across cities. We are proud that FIWARE NGSI has been recommended by TM Forum as the API unleashing the potential of right-time access to information describing what is going on in cities. We are also collaborating with TM Forum in delivering the components that support the transition from traditional open data approaches to advanced data economy concepts, transforming cities into engines of growth.”
The notion of open architecture is echoed by Antonio Ceño, global head of public administration solutions, Indra, who commented, “The success of our approach to the smart city model resides in the idea of fostering collaboration instead of competition. Having created an open ecosystem, cities and universities have generated a constantly-growing community where the combined value generated is immensely greater than the sum of the values each one could separately provide.”
While monetization will become a focus, the fundamental goal of a city platform is to improve life in the city. Jamie Cudden, head of Smart Dublin, commented, “The manifesto’s focus on collaboration and openness will help cities to realize this ambition. In Dublin, we see the city as a platform as a key enabler to develop evidence based solutions that will enhance city living”.
Suvi Linden, member of the United Nations Broadband Commission and former minister of communications in Finland, added, “The cities that use modern digital technology to create a better experience for each and every citizen, are the true smart cities. TM Forum’s city platform principles offer great guidelines to achieve this goal.”
The full list of signatories can be found here.