IMD Center Research
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Smart City

Six Steps To Transform Your City

By Professor Michael R. Wade Michael R. Wade, Michel Peter Pfäffli, Raphaël Rollier and Blaise Vonlanthen

Making cities ‘smarter’ is a hot topic. Using data and advances in technology cities are analysing and tackling the challenges of modern urban life. Smart cities are taking on issues like healthcare, traffic flows, parking, pollution, environmental improvement and even urban heat generation. Data from sensors and public records are only just beginning to be exploited - ‘big data’ and smart civic-analytics for cities is just around the corner, with many city managers believing we’re on the cusp of a major transformation.

But our research has also revealed a widespread lack of understanding among stakeholders as to how cities can transform themselves. Interviews with city leaders, department officials and companies providing Smart City products and services indicate that there is no shared understanding of how to embark on a Smart City journey, and little common vocabulary or standardised methodology for planning and execution.

A Practical Framework

This paper lays out a practical framework for transformative, technological urban initiatives referred to as ‘Smart City projects’ and is targeted at city leaders across the globe who aspire to make their cities “smart.”

The six necessary steps we have identified are:

1. Determine your starting point

Develop a clear and objective understanding of the current situation across multiple relevant parameters.

2. Identify your objectives

 Critically identify the objectives behind your decision to embark on a Smart City journey.

3. Define a set of projects 

Define a set of projects Identify potential Smart City projects for each objective.

4. Assess the likelihood of each project’s implementation success

For each project identified, assess the success factors for implementation using the Smart City Piano.

5. Assess the impact of each project

Assess the impact of each Smart City project based on the identified objectives.

6. Select the most promising projects

Select the most promising projects according to the Smart City Project Selection Matrix.

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Smart City
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