CIOs and ICT heads must create a smart vision: Socitm

Developing a smart vision for a city, region or other local area is critical, and not doing so will prejudice the well-being and life chances of citizens, says ‘Smart places: smart infrastructure, systems or people?’ the latest briefing from Socitm.

CIOs and heads of ICT have a vital role to play in creating ‘smart’ places – cities, regions or rural areas – where local leaders need to bring together a locality’s natural resources and economic strengths with an appropriate technical architecture.

There is no single model for a ‘smart place’, and while designing one requires much more than a technological infrastructure, that place’s CIO or head of ICT has a vital role to play in developing the wider vision, by explaining and integrating the possibilities of a digital future with the community’s physical plans for buildings and infrastructure. Thinking about the exploitation of information assets is equally part of the ICT leader’s contribution.

Smart city thinking forms part of the information economy theme of the government’s industrial strategy and Socitm’s Smart places briefing draws on ideas in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills publication Smart Cities:

Overall, says the briefing, ‘smart’ is typified by a citizen-centred approach, embedding openness and sharing and exploiting the opportunities that information and technology provides to improve people’s lives. The ‘smart’ vision should provide a flexible framework within which planning and innovation can be nurtured, with focus is on the enabling processes by which innovative use of technology and data coupled with organisational change help deliver local visions in more efficient, effective and sustainable ways. ICT should enable people to conduct their lives and business in order to increase their quality of life at the lowest cost. 

The briefing goes on to discuss other key aspects of smart thinking and smart programmes including:

  • Economic restructuring, as the economy moves from being mostly based on goods to one based on services, and where pervasive broadband has now become minimum infrastructure
  • Supporting ageing people by enabling their digital inclusion and ability to remain in their own homes for longer through activity monitoring and automated prompts to stay safe 
  • Educating citizens, recognising that ‘smart citizens’ can benefit from a wealth of online resources if they have the ability and technical wherewithal to gain access

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