Why Cape Town is One of the World’s Smart Cities?

“City authorities need to be transparent in what they are doing, at the same time as defining rules, practices and business models which encourage data sharing, third party contribution, and appropriate monetization.”

Why Cape Town is One of the World’s Smart Cities?

Cape Town, South Africa’s second largest city by population, is one of the world’s cities that is transforming itself into the urban centre of tomorrow — today.

In its Smart City Playbook, a strategy report that documents best practices for smart cities, Nokia survey  22 cities around the world and find out how they’re pursuing smart city goals.

The cities profiled in the study include Auckland, Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Bristol, Cape Town, Cleveland, Delhi, Dubai, Jeddah, Mexico City, New York City, Paris, Pune, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Vienna, and Wuxi.

The main emphasis of Cape Town smart city strategy is on e-Government to provide better access to and more efficient delivery of human facing services.

Providing social and economic development by improving ICT skills is also an area of priority for Cape Town, according to the study.

This accounts for the city’s relatively high ‘smart’ score.

  • Cape Town’s principal smart city activities have, to date, included:
  • Public Wi-Fi. Being rolled out during 2016.
  • CCTV. With 560 cameras located throughout the city.
  • Open Data Portal. Launched in 2015.
  • Smart grid. Several pilots underway through DEDAT.
Aerial photo of Cape Town South Africa, overlooking Table Mountain and Lions Head

Aerial photo of Cape Town South Africa, overlooking Table Mountain and Lions Head (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

The report noted that Cape Town has much to learn from other cities about the potential of IoT applications to make the city’s operations more efficient and improve the lives of its citizens.

“It could do worse than ‘copy with dignity’ some implementations and trials that are deployed elsewhere – for example, in smart street lighting, environmental monitoring or traffic management,” said Machina Research, a provider of strategic market intelligence on the Internet of Things (IoT), which developed the report.

It also praised Cape Town for adopting an approach suitable to its local context, rather than pursuing grand projects that its citizens cannot benefit from, it is tailoring its efforts to what it perceives are their needs.

Why smart cities?

With half the world’s people living in urban areas — a figure expected to reach 70 percent by 2050 — cities are being affected by powerful demographic, environmental, financial, and economic forces. In response, many are looking to become:

  • Smart — using technology to improve people’s quality of life, bolster innovation and social and economic development, and make cities more attractive places to live, visit and do business. The City of Cape Town scored a four, meaning that it is improving the lives for citizens using technology.
  • Safe — preventing or minimizing the risks and impact of adverse events including crime, accidents, pollution, and natural disasters. The City of Cape Town scored a paltry two, meaning it still need to improve safety.
  • Sustainable — reducing the environmental impact of municipal operations, local business activities and people’s everyday lives. The City of Cape Town scored a pathetic one on sustainability, implying it is failing to reduce the environmental impact (e.g., energy consumption and carbon emissions) of city operations and activities.

Best practices for becoming a smart, safe, and sustainable city

Machina Research’s Smart City Playbook identifies several leading practices in use today that can be adopted by cities everywhere:

  1. Establish clear rules, policies, and governance structures for how data will be used

Cities must be transparent about how people’s data is collected and used, with clear rules and business models that protect privacy while encouraging data sharing and third-party contributions and that address the monetization of data resources.

  1. Coordinate smart city initiatives with forethought and leadership

To break down departmental silos and take advantage of synergies between and integration between applications and datasets, smart initiatives must be run by cross-departmental teams or coordinated by a single, centralized agency.

  1. Make the benefits of smart initiatives visible to citizens

Citizens are more likely to support initiatives they can see are relevant to their lives. Many cities are using platforms that not only publish data but also allow citizens to co-create and suggest ideas for smart city applications.

  1. Build procurement capacity for smart technologies

Smart city solutions are complex and don’t fit well with traditional purchasing models, so municipal procurement teams need to be educated about how to buy complex, interconnected solutions.

  1. Take advantage of the capacity of smart technologies to revitalize local economies

Smart city solutions can support technology-led urban regeneration and may give access to wider sources of funding for urban development initiatives. 6.  Build the right relationships with ICT vendors Technology vendors can be important partners in — and funders of — smart city projects. Cities should cultivate good relationships with vendors, without becoming dependent on any one vendor alone.


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