The Harvard Business Review just released a guide to help your business be prepared for the rise of smart cities. As different types of technologies grow and develop, cities begin to rely more on the private sector to provide various systems and services. If you’re trying to use these new technological opportunities to generate revenue, HBR says it’s important to ask yourself three important questions to make sure you’re ready to adapt to digitizing cities.
How Do We Need to Adapt Our Current Offerings?
No matter what product or service your business can provide to a smart city, chances are you’re going to have to get creative to make the most of the digitization of what will house two-thirds of the world population by 2030. Automakers are looking to use technology to change the way people travel around the city, with ideas to provide minibuses with wi-fi and foldable tables for business commuters as well as more accessible transportation for elderly and disabled people.
Telecom operators provide communication networks that allow these smart cities to integrate new technologies and are building their relationships with municipal governments to provide products like body-worn cameras for police officers and smart parking solutions for citizens.
Even though municipal governments are getting smarter with their technology, they are still working on a tight budget. This means you have to be smart about how your company can offer services in a way that a city can afford but will still help grow your business. Intersection, for example, is trying to expand public wi-fi throughout major cities, and is able to do so from revenue they get from advertisers.
How Might Smart Cities Shift Value in Our Industry?
The real estate industry will see major changes in the values of urban properties as cities become smarter. New technologies could help cities get cleaner air, lighter traffic, more accessible public transportation, and less crime, all of which will increase property value.
Acquiring data will be an important part of developing smart cities, especially when it comes to seeing how people use spaces so that cities and companies can plan the design of their space to be more beneficial. WeWork, for example, provides “space as a service” and uses sensor-fed software that lets the company track precisely how people use desks, conference rooms, and amenities, and then use that information to maximize utilization.
As mentioned before, mobility and transportation will be a growing market as cities grow larger and smarter. We’ve already seen companies like Uber and Lyft use the public’s need for user-friendly transit to create the transportation phenomenon of ride-sharing, and we are likely to see more and more companies revolutionize the way we move around cities. Ford is launching their own on-demand services using custom-designed fleets of minibuses. Berlin’s public transportation provider is piloting its own ride-sharing van service through a public-private partnership. This poses a question for automakers: do they make and sell the required vehicles for these transit innovations, operate them as a service for other companies and cities, or run their own mobility platforms?
What Does It Take to Be a Successful Smart Cities Provider?
Serving a city isn’t just about selling your product or service to the government anymore. It’s about providing a product or service that city-dwellers will consistently need and rely on. If you want to be successful in integrating your product or service into the lives of a city’s citizens, you have to make sure you understand the ins and outs of that city in particular and have a close relationship with its citizens and leaders.
Many companies, realizing the importance of connecting with the city they are trying to integrate into, have hired urban planners, sociologists, designers, and other specialists as part of ne multidisciplinary teams that help them understand the market they are diving into and approach cities with clear and coordinated pitches. Companies often have to win mandates to open up shop and provide their products and services to cities, so your team needs to know how their product will affect the public sphere in context with that particular city.