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COVER FEATURE Thinking Cities

“The debate has been dominated by the technology companies and we define our smartness by whether we’ve implemented one technology or another and we haven’t sought to adapt the business models”

operators the tools to do their job, but also allow them to make informed decisions on how to best change behaviour,” explains Humanes. “You can advise that there is congestion ahead and you can inform people who are about to start their journey via their smart phones that today the best way to get from A to B is by public transport or it can tell drivers to take a different route or it can tell drivers that their best option is to drive to the nearest metro station to get to their final destination…we are working with some car manufacturers on this at the moment. It can also suggest car or bike sharing schemes at the other end of your journey if your final desti- nation is remote or not easily accessible by public transport as it was by car. We can give you travel options and make a payment transaction seamlessly.”

MOTIVATING FACTORS As far as Phil Silver is concerned there have been two inno- vations over the past decade that has made Next City, and ultimately the thinking city concept, possible. “The first is reliable wireless networks that have all sorts of devices con- nected to each other and the second is the smartphone. That’s exactly what Next City is about – you see bits and pieces of it emerging already but what you don’t see is the whole thing integrated for the entire journey.” Anderson is busy learning from the retail sector: “They

constantly look at new ways to track more customers to improve their bottom line, and they were early adopters of network video and they use cameras with people counting

capabilities to evaluate customer flows and promotion and marketing campaigns. They also integrate their cameras with alarm systems and point of sale systems to get imme- diate video alerts.” So the parallels with transport are that “city officials could ask themselves when would it be valu- able for us to get an automatic video alert, or how could we benefit from getting a better understanding of how vehicles or pedestrians move about in a city”. That better understanding, according to Tip Franklin, is

leading to huge efficiencies. He sites an example of school bus fleets in Northern Virginia, “Each bus runs five routes a day, and they have made a corporate decision that if a bus is more than five minutes late, they’ll put a new bus out. Well, that costs capitalisation, O and M. If we can give them better information and they know the bus might only be five and a half minutes late, or if we’re able to give them routing data that keeps them within the five minute window we reduce their costs.” He’s got another example where a smart city will cut waste:

“If we put an adaptive vehicle control system around a facil- ity run by the convention and visitor bureau, and we move traffic more efficiently, meaning they can fill and empty their parking lots and now run three events a day rather than two, we’ve impacted their bottom line”. All our experts are agreed that the lead for this must come

from Government, whether city, state or nation. In Europe, there are three EU-initiated groups, one of which Denis Naberezhnykh belongs to, whose job is to steer Thinking Cities projects. “We try to assess what are the key drivers behind a

Thinking City and what are the enablers to allow smart city technologies, and what are the barriers and challenges,” he says. These groups meet to ensure that there’s a joined up solution. “It requires a lot of buy-in from end users, such as local authorities and public bodies so to have a truly think- ing city we need the government to accept and pioneer the implementation of this technology”. Nigel Weldon agrees, “The local authority is pretty much

at the hub of everything that goes on. You’ve got the trans- port operators, a lot of them are private companies these days, but it’s up to the local authority to coordinate, after all it’s their city that the citizens are living in.” Phil Silver maintains that Government must seize upon

The smartphone is one of the two innovations of recent times that has made the wider smart city concept possible


the technological improvements to use the solutions that can now be created. “It takes a lot of people, a lot of authorities and a lot of collaboration to pull together and it just wasn’t possible before, but with the technology we have now in Vol 8 No 3 North America

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