The Digital Transformation of Cities: Houston, We Have a Problem!
We’ve been talking to governments and observing behaviors in cities of all sizes across the US. While there is a clamor and almost a universal desire to have a smart city, the issue we’re seeing right now runs much deeper than that. This blog is about the current state of many of our cities and local governments and where they are in their digital transformation journey.
Digital Cities: Houston, We Have a Problem!
While everyone is talking about smart cities, the reality is that most of our cities are very much still living in an analog world. This issue is only now coming to light due to the impact the pandemic has had on increasing the load on the digital infrastructure within our cities. As the demand on cities infrastructure increased, it exposed the fragility and limitations of much of the existing legacy internet infrastructure, such as DSL and cable.
Some of the problems we’ve observed include vendors taking advantage of local municipalities by taking shortcuts in their designs, such as putting in place systems with no redundancy as a way of cutting overall costs of their implementation. These municipalities have also fallen into the trap of not planning for these digital services with the same oversight as they would have in a more classic city project like sewer, water, and roads.
The Digital Transformation of Cities Must Come Before Smart Cities
In order to get to the end goal of having a smart city, the underlying foundation of having a digital city must already be in place. The vast majority of the cities we’ve observed could still be classified as analog cities, meaning that digital services such as internet services are off-boarded to 3rd party vendors that end up taking complete ownership, including hardware, software, and services.
This may sound attractive to city planners as they have one less service to deal with, however this will limit their ability to ultimately transition to a smart city, thereby limiting their ability to generate recurring revenue.
Digital infrastructure projects need to be treated just like analog infrastructure projects in that they require careful planning and oversight to be successful. Cities and municipalities that treat digital projects just like any other project and invest in their digital infrastructure will build the foundation for becoming a smart city, enabling them to get a sustaining return on their investment.
If this rings true, municipalities should reach out to Aragon Research for a complimentary inquiry to explore where we can help you on your digital journey.
Below are some links to earlier Aragon Research Notes on Smart Cities: