2011 Edition - Interview with Gordon Falconer
- Interview with Gordon Falconer, director of Urban Innovation at CISCO
What drives us towards the model of Smart City?
Quality of life and the enhancement of quality of life must always be paramount alongside efficiency. A smart city must have a purpose to bring benefit at all levels beyond simply demonstrating “smartness”.
What is currently the biggest challenge of this model?
The biggest challenge for smart cities is actual implementation of all the great solutions and technologies available right now and the barriers to implementation tend to be governance, regulatory and institutional ones besides a lack of funding in some cities.
What are the advantages and possible disadvantages?
Advantages of smart city include higher quality of life, enhanced citizen services, economic welfare and higher efficiencies in areas such as energy usage, water management etc and operating & life cycle costs. Possible disadvantages are allowing the “smart” components to over ride everything else.
What aspects of cities will change first?
“Low hanging fruit” or easy options always must be chosen as “proof points” to get things moving and build momentum. You cannot “boil the ocean” so start small with areas close to a city’s skill set which can make maximum impact.
In your opinion, what is the role of public administrations and ICT companies in the construction of the Smart Cities, both currently and in the ideal case? What about the citizens? What role do technology centers play in creating Smart Cities?
Government should be a facilitator, policy maker and a regulator of smart cities while ICT companies and private sector developers / operators should do the actual design and construction and operation. Citizens must be taken into account always as they will live in the city. Technology centers play a significant role in creating smart cities but often tend to be too focused on the technology only and need to include an understanding of policy and economics.
What do you think are the best examples of Smart Cities?
There are many Greenfield smart cities currently under development and Songdo in Korea is a good example. I mention it because all the main stakeholders involved are aware of the challenges and are working together to craft the best way forward for their particular city. No two smart cities will be exactly the same and as smart cities are relatively new phenomena it makes the early ones very challenging for all involved. Obviously, Masdar City has attracted a lot of publicity and being fortunate to be a part of it I would mention that its aspirations and approach is a great example of a smart city of course the real estate slowdown in the UAE from the global financial crisis has had an effect on its progress.
Amsterdam is a great example of a brownfield smart city with a focused city administration with a committed population who embrace city transformations and smart city solutions.
How would you describe the business sector related to Smart Cities?
In regard to companies or government developing smart cities the economics around them is the key component. It is pointless developing a “smart city” which ignore business case fundamentals. Of course, smart city initiatives bring additional benefits to cities but the fundamentals must be worked through.
Can we talk about a “Smart Cities business case?
The high level business case is reasonably accepted for smart cities in regards to improved quality of life / efficiencies etc. The issue is one level down where the understanding of how each city component, such as transport, fits together within the business case that is causes challenges.Go to page