By Michael J. Dixon
As people talk about the need for cities to become smarter, there is a temptation to believe the largest cities in the world need to lead the way. But the reality is cities that are a third of the size of Paris, Los Angeles or Tokyo have the ability to get their arms around these challenges and do something about it, even faster.
Cities like Lyon, France, Almere, Netherlands or Nuremberg, Germany. prove that technology-based overhauls don’t have to be massive, complex, multi-year mega-projects. They can be practical, tightly focused efforts that produce dependable results in a short time. City leaders—especially those in medium-size cities—can’t afford to get bogged down in the details of technology; they just want to get things done.
For example, the City of Lyon is piloting a first-of-a-kind IBM Research project to use analytics to improve the flow of transportation for freight. Part of a massive transportation project this pilot will help freight operators, trucks and delivery vehicles become more efficient, from knowing where to park to make a delivery, to knowing which route is the most economically and environmentally friendly. IBM Research is working with the City of Lyon to build new intelligence into roadways.
One of the fastest growing cities in Europe, Almere, Netherlands is using predictive analytics to more effectively provide social services to its citizens. The city of Nuremberg, Germany, is using similar technology to get predictive insight. This allows them to examine and derive intelligence from public data to simplify and improve decision-making for municipal administrators, helping them make better use of scarce resources and ensure intelligent urban development.
In the face of shrinking budgets and limited resources, cities need to get innovative about problem-solving, like these three cities. We can’t just continue to build new roads, buildings and infrastructure to support growth. Cities must become smarter about using existing capacity and resources. See more on my point of view on this topic in the Harvard Business Review blog, “How Smart Cities Save Money (and the Planet.)