By the Sente.Link Team, @Sente_Link
More and more of the international startups which go through Sente.Link’s accelerator program are in the “smart cities” domain - essentially, domains where technologies and solutions connect citizens, their local government, urban infrastructure and industry.
This is the first in a series of posts where we will explore Smart City and IoT innovations around the world, with specific emphasis on Sente’s main hubs in Chicago, Helsinki and Istanbul.
In their pre-Sente days, Sente CEO, Serhat Cicekoglu and and Sente COO, Gerod Carfantan, spent some years in consulting. One of the many things it did to their brains was forced them to organize ideas into frameworks. So one of the first things they did to better understand the global Smart Cities innovation ecosystem was to create a basic framework.
What this artistic display depicts is that, for a city to be “smart,” it needs to think about its capabilities and stakeholders in three ways: (a) Enabling ecosystems, (b) enabling platforms, which are foundations for (c) a variety of potential smart city solutions. On this week’s post, let’s take a closer look at what is meant by “enabling ecosystem.”
The stakeholders (or players) of a city - i.e. the government, educational institutions, industry, and you (both as a citizen and as a worker) - need to cooperate for anything to really work. And in order to enable a “smart” ecosystem, leading smart cities like Barcelona have prioritized building a stronger relationship between the city’s stakeholders and the role the internet of things (IoT) has within a city.
In 2012, Barcelona teamed up with the worldwide leader in IT, Cisco. As part of Cisco’s “Internet of Everything (IoE) for Cities” theme, Cisco and the local stakeholders created “Smart City Barcelona.”
Through this initiative, the city employed smart technologies to help its citizens plan their commute and pay for public parking in the city utilizing GPS. “Smart City Barcelona” also worked with the city’s government to create projects that enabled the safety and functionality of the city (i.e. traffic lights that interact with emergency vehicles, and clear paths to an incident, which decreases response times and traffic incidents). The city also placed sensors in irrigation systems, which saved money and water.
According to Deputy Mayor, Antoni Vives, “‘Smart City Barcelona” is “saving $58 million annually using smart water technology” -- and -- “the city has created 47,000 new jobs through its Smart City efforts.”
By partnering a large corporation like Cisco with IoT, Barcelona can enhance its stakeholders’ trust and cooperation and thereby boost the city’s economy. In this case, it’s not a government which has led the IoT revolution. But instead, a large corporation has played role in both technology and strategic leadership, which cities around the world should embrace.
Prague is another ecosystem finding ways to develop partnerships between companies, government agencies, educational institutions and citizens through IoT and smart city initiatives. The Czech Smart City Cluster (CSCC) was created to help build smart cities, “where social and technological infrastructure and solutions make life easier for residents and promote sustainable economic growth.”
Along with Barcelona and Prague, Chicago and its stakeholders are embracing the rise of innovation as a missing link to create a stronger Chicago. Ever heard of 1871? Chicago’s home to hundreds of entrepreneurs where people from around the world come to build ideas, make mistakes, share and learn (and where 1871 CEO Howard Tullman hangs his incredible collection of contemporary art).
1871 is a rare example of a tech ecosystem that really does include all stakeholders - universities, startups, investors and corporations - under a single roof (AKA one of the largest roofs in the world - The Merchandise Mart). All of Chicago universities have offices there, as do many of the world’s most influential tech companies like Microsoft and Pivotal Labs, and major corporations like Bosch, Lenovo, Quaker, Caterpillar, and State Farm.
What 1871 has done for the city of Chicago is to remove barriers between the various stakeholders and as a result, more smart city initiatives have emerged out of Chicago - Ekistic Ventures, Datamade, Spothero, and Sente.Link’s alum, Boni to name a few.
So what can other cities around the world take from the above? That city stakeholders should begin to nurture and adopt corporate partnerships, startup accelerators, and smart city technologies as the enablers to create stronger “cities of the future.”
In the next post in this “Smart Cities series,” we’ll tackle the second building block for creating smart city solutions - “enabling platforms” - i.e. technologies with open interfaces and open standards in which solutions can be built by the stakeholders.