Smart Cities: Aligning Citizen Priorities with a Digital Strategy

The world’s leading Smart, Intelligent, Sustainable and Resilient Cities or “Future Cities, are enjoying exceptional economic, social and environmental benefits. New incoming investment, the retention and attraction of young people, new knowledge jobs and improved citizen collaboration are just a few of the many benefits.

Urban digital transformation is a trillion-dollar global business today and about fifty cities in the world have made it to the top tier of Future City rankings. They are “Today’s Winners”. Others are moving up the scale – “Tomorrow’s Winners” – while hundreds of others have not started or are spending time and money with processes that are not working (“The Others”).

One reason why The Others are behind is they are lacking a strategic plan/roadmap that includes the priorities of citizens and community stakeholders, a plan/roadmap aligns those priorities with a digital strategy. The Others often start with a digital strategy by itself and begin designing and implementing it only to be rebuffed by City Council who have not participated in high level priority setting with citizen and stakeholder groups. Councillors have not been a part of the visioning process.

Meanwhile, The Winners are implementing Strategic Technology Alignment or “STA”, a phrase and process created 25 years ago when academic research at MIT identified the benefits of aligning IT investments with strategic goals of the organization. Business organizations have included STA in their plans for many years but it is a challenge in municipal government, in part because of the added management complexity in cities compared to business organizations.

Cities have more outside influences and influencers to be managed. The overall management challenge is very different because stakeholders and important citizens’ groups are not city government employees, but they are an important part of the “organization” writ large. Collaboration and consensus is important in Future City transformation. It requires strong leadership, and real success is achieved only when members of the entire community believe they have an effective voice in the Future City transformation process.

A Future City plan featuring Strategic Technology Alignment blends the benefits of being Smart, Intelligent, Sustainable, Resilient, and incorporates other themes such as Creative and Comfortable. Citizen and community stakeholder priorities inform the digital strategy which then connects many disparate applications and themes. The result is an effective and efficient transformation process that is creating Tomorrow’s Winners.

Establishing a Future City plan with STA, including citizen priorities, can be achieved in three months – in Canada at least because of the availability of necessary citizen research coordinates for outreach feedback. The process requires strong senior civic leadership and oversight by a Smart City Advisory Board or Task Force representing all dimensions of the community. The result will be citizen satisfaction and support with better civic productivity and important future positioning on the national and global scene.

bill-hutchison-linkedin-100To schedule a seminar on Fast Start Citizen Outreach with Strategic Technology Alignment contact us here or on LinkedIn at ca.linkedin.com/in/hutchisonbill.

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