Our experiences with smart cities have shown us that future digital services should have the goal of being personalised to the needs of residents and visitors, ideally in real-time.
With IoT, services need to be put in to context and adapted for each user based on their situation, so they can be alerted to the right service, at the right time, in the right place, in a way that can be easily actioned or transacted by them. Information needs to be pushed so that citizens don’t have to search for it. We’ve understood that this means that data from a wide variety of sources is required to provide the kind of hyperlocal intelligence such a platform requires.
Thinking ahead, Croydon needs to plan for connected street furniture, smart parking, wireless mesh networks, the changing nature of public and private interfaces (e.g. in-car voice assistants) and what 5G will bring. Helping Croydon residents to become stakeholders in a smart city stack owned and managed by the Council could help to pay for better services. The ability to charge third-party vendors for access, ensuring local businesses compete on a level playing field (e.g. advertising on digital screens) and ensuring money circulates locally will create benefits for Croydon. Of course then there’s the efficiencies that could be experienced in civic engagement, enhanced digital service delivery and lower electricity usage too.
In short, the technologies exist for Croydon to do something ground-breaking. From what we’ve seen in the market, piloting integrated smart solutions doesn’t have to be hugely expensive either. It’d be great to see Croydon pioneering their use in the new digital strategy.