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White House slates $80M for city tech innovations

Matt Hamblen | Oct. 10, 2016
Focus needs to be on citizen needs, info-sharing

The five winning cities will receive customized workshops and services from industry partners. One such service will come from the TM Forum, a nonprofit group focused on improving collaboration. It will provide a free assessment model to help the winning cities examine strengths and weaknesses so they can set goals in the next two to five years.

Cities can use the model to advance "by really looking at how the city is organized, since many have stovepipe organizations where portions have trouble talking to each other," Carl Piva, vice president of strategic programs at TM Forum, said in an interview.

The model was developed by experts and linked up with global best practices from the smart city movement. "It's the glue to pull together a lot of reputable institutions. The notion is to try to get a global movement going for one way to view smart city maturity," Piva said.

Once a city examines its approach and develops a vision of what it wants to achieve using the TM Forum model, the questions then become "how to drive citizen input and drive city services with the citizen at the heart and defining a new proposition of what the customer needs," Piva said.

Just as Uber and Airbnb have crushed older, established business models to build services around customer needs, cities need to do the same, he said. "The best municipalities have services designed around customer needs, although usually it's the other way around—kind of an inside-out approach. Sensors in the Internet of Things and other technologies happening in society could form a powerful catalyst for change. Cities need to see what citizens want."

Eventually, the model could be used to create online components of data that can be shared by other cities. "If your city is not doing tourism well, maybe another city solved that problem and you can copy and download and use its approach," he said.

"That's something cities don't do well today, but it has worked for some industries," Piva said. "It is called co-creation, where you create components but don't develop everything yourself. You might need something somebody else already did. That's a journey that doesn't happen overnight, but the city that doesn't do it will fall behind."


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