Workshop Videos

Ricky Morton: The Evolution of Smart Cities

Ricky Morton is responsible for defining the ‘Digital Kingston: Smart Borough’ strategy and leading on open data, smart city infrastructure, web and digital presence, customer experience and digital transformation.

Ricky presented at our London workshop on April 27 – with his presentation focusing on integrated city services (from the City of Troy on!).

His presentation is below.

Citizen Engagement Citizen Experience Workshop Videos

Cities and Accessibility

In our recent Citizen2020 Workshop in San Francisco I had the opportunity to discuss government website accessibility issues with Stephen Morgan of Squiz.

Squiz works with many government departments, and city government, in the USA, UK and Australia, helping to develop interaction portals and information resources designed for ALL citizens (including those with visual impairment).

Workshop Speakers

Innovations and Solutions to Urban Problems

Marcia Kadanoff
Marcia Kadanoff

We’re delighted to confirm that Marcia Kadanoff will be taking part in our upcoming workshop in San Francisco on November 17.

Marcia is a civic innovator accelerating policy change and digital transformation inside cities. She has just finished a book on how “the Maker movement is transforming cities and creating a new wave of economic opportunity for cities.” She has been involved in the City Innovate Foundation and Maker City Lab.

At our workshop we’ll get Marcia’s perspectives on what’s next for cities like San Francisco and how innovation can help make cities better places in which to work and live.


United Kingdom United States Workshop Speakers

Announcing our ‘Conversations’ Workshops

Over the next few months we plan to run a series of workshops in the United Kingdom and North America. These workshops will explore how government is (or should be) transforming itself to better engage with the citizens it serves. Our first two workshops will focus on future cities.  

Newcastle Upon Tyne Workshop
San Francisco Workshop

We’re calling these Conversations Workshops because we plan to provide the opportunity for people engaged in or interested in government at city, regional or national level – who have interesting opinions or experiences – to converse and make their views known to a much wider audience. We plan to record the conversations on video and to feature the videos here on Citizen2020.

Our primary focus is on engagement. In short how should government provide services to citizens in new, more efficient, ways in the light of ever-tightening budgets and the need for greater taxpayer accountability?

For example, if you have trail-blazed a new initiative where you make public previously hidden data (to improve public information provision) we’d like to hear about it. If you are pursuing an initiative that results in more sharing of public data – or sharing of public resources – please tell us more. If you rolled out a new ‘crowd-sourced’ platform that allows citizens to share information to avoid the need for call center resources, please contact us. Or if you are from a think tank that has interesting perspectives on how to transform city services through open data (or open services) please get involved.

We want to hear about how to provide better services with less resources. We want to know about novel uses for social media. We want to hear about new ways for citizens to do things more easily, more seamlessly, enabled by digital technology, or analytics, or social sharing, or knowledge derived from the community. And we’d also like to stimulate debate by debating new ways to do things to provide better citizen engagement.

Our first two Conversations Workshops will be held in September and November, 2016 with further workshops planned for early 2017 in Washington DC and London.

If you would like to register your interest to attend these events please complete the forms on the relevant event page (see links above). Please note that we expect the events to be highly participatory – so most attendees will take part in the conversations that we’ll record.

So please do get in touch and join the conversations!

Smart Cities United Kingdom

IoT and Smart Cities

There’s a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). And smart cities. But, increasingly, there’s a view that citizens are going to be denied anything that resembles a smart city until the city, itself, becomes a lot, well, smarter.

I took the opportunity to meet with Andy Mulholland, former Global CTO of Cap Gemini (and now a VP at Constellation Research focusing on IoT) and Bill Clee, CEO of Asset Mapping, in London last week. Asset Mapping, by the way, focuses on collecting IoT data from building management systems and other feeds. The firm was recently selected to provide its solution to the Manchester Verve smart cities project.

In the video Andy outlines how big data often doesn’t provide the answer in terms of improving citizen experience of so-called smart cities. In the same way a phone is smart (because it’s aware of what its user needs, and of its environment) cities need to react to citizen needs. Cities need to respond appropriately to information to provide better services.

Bill tries to provide examples of how this can happen. He also talks at length about Manchester Verve and what it’s trying to achieve.

One does sense that there’s the whiff of the future about all this. Cities will, inevitably, take cloud and IoT technology to new ‘service’ levels where things just appear to work better.

Citizen Engagement Digital Government Smart Cities

Smart Cities: From Point to Platform

In the beginning, there was the single app… single-purpose applications developed one at a time by individual city departments. They enabled citizens do things like get real-time bus arrival information, monitor air quality or stay current on news about elected officials and legislation relevant to the neighborhood where they live or work.

The problem with the single app is that, well, it is single. It typically doesn’t talk to other apps to share data and only has a single function. Increasingly, cities are coming to the conclusion that building separate tools for separate applications or investing limited funds and resources to integrate single apps is not practical or cost-effective.

The thinking now is to develop comprehensive set of capabilities that can be used to build a variety of integrated apps for a wide variety of applications that span multiple departments and functions – a platform, in other words.

AT&T, in alliance with Cisco, Deloitte, Ericsson, GE, IBM, Intel and Qualcomm, has just announced one such initiative. Known as the Smart Cities Framework, this initiative combines AT&T’s Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities with those of its technology partners to offer a range of solutions for cities. The initial offering of the Framework consists of four categories of IoT solutions:

  • Infrastructure – Capabilities that will enable cities to remotely monitor the conditions of roads, bridges, buildings, parks and other sites
  • Transportation – Electric bike rental stations to reduce traffic congestion; digital signage that indicates near real-time the arrival of buses and trains
  • Public safety – Management of pedestrian traffic patterns at busy intersections, stadiums, parks and other venues; gunfire detection technology that pinpoints the location of shootings and the number of people involved
  • Citizen engagement – Remote viewing of parking meters and ability to reserve parking spaces ahead of time; mobile apps that provide helpful information real-time, e.g., malfunctioning traffic light on commuter’s route

AT&T is also developing a Smart City Network Operation Center (SC-NOC) that provides a dashboard view of how well a city’s infrastructure is performing in near-real time. The SNOC enables city officials to monitor things such as power outages, water leaks and traffic congestion from a single location.

The first cities to get connected will be Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago. Each will implement capabilities tailored to their needs.

The success of this initiative will largely depend on whether cities see an attractive payback for this type of investment. If the ROI is not there, it is unlikely cash-strapped cities will invest in this technology. However, if IoT technology can save cities money while helping them provide better service, this ambitious initiative has a bright future.

Digital Policy Open Data Smart Cities United States

Sunlight Foundation on Open Government: Cities Get It

Sunlight Foundation recently celebrated its 9th year of campaigning, lobbying and supporting efforts designed to make government more open and more accountable.

We recently met with Chris Gates, the new President of Sunlight, in Washington DC.

We asked Chris for an update on Sunlight’s work and his perspectives on how receptive government is to the idea of openness and transparency. Chris outlines why city governments are forging ahead while federal government adopts a fundamentally different attitude.

We’ll feature more from the interview with Chris in the coming weeks.


Digital Policy Open Data Smart Cities

Smart Cities, Common Sense

I was interviewed for a feature on smart cities by London’s new DAB radio station Share Radio. The piece was broadcast earlier today.

Bill Bambrough, the Share Radio journalist who produced the piece, asked me about the evolution of smart cities, concerns over personal data privacy and how city planners should approach smart city roll-out.

The piece touches on other topics such as Internet of Things, Open Data and how technology, generally, can help improve the lives of citizens in cities.


Citizen Engagement Open Data Smart Cities

GSMA: Government Needs to Open Data

Michael O’Hara is the Chief Marketing Officer of the GSMA – the association of global mobile operators that, among other things, runs the Mobile World Congress.  The Congress is the largest annual event in the mobile industry – held in Barcelona.

Michael is based in Boston but was in the UK last week presenting at a number of events.

Michael is an advocate of open data – publicly available data sets – to allow amalgam services to be built and made available to mobile devices. In this short interview I ask him why it’s important that government and city authorities make available data for website and app developers.

(Somewhat ironically, when interviewing Michael I received a text message about 26 seconds in to the interview – so no need to check your phone).


Smart Cities United Kingdom United States

Internet of Things will be at the heart of smart city transformation

Guest post by Charbel Aoun, President/CEO, Cities Business at Schneider Electric. Follow Charbel on Twitter. We hope to interview Charbel about all things ‘smart city’ related later in the year.  

The smart cities movement is trying to change our world for the better. Visionary goals are being set at both at city and national level—like India announcing its intention to create 100 smart cities or via the creation of organisations like the UK’s Future Cities Catapult.

Around the globe, countries and cities are exploring how technology can make urban environments cleaner, healthier and more pleasant in which to live. We know that technology cannot resolve every city challenge, nor should we expect it to do so. Yet, if applied well, technology can help solve pressing needs or meet aspirations, delivering improved quality of life, more prosperity and efficiency in a sustainable way.

I am excited about the possibilities of bringing technology into cities to see this value realized. The deployment of technology is part of the urban transformation concept which we are calling the smart city.

Industry analysts have embraced the smart city concept and are predicting huge growth in the levels of spending and of the number of devices installed along the way and this has fueled the expectations of the technology industry and cities.

Smart cities often comprise many different projects, typically smart energy, smart water, smart transport, smart waste, e-Government and many others. Yet, as with many analyst projections, growth and spending have been lagging behind the vast levels of investment forecast (although it’s still growing strongly).

In tandem, there is a lot of discussion about the Internet of Things (IOT). The IOT represents a much broader range of applications than in just cities, but the convergence of these trends creates the most likely path towards smart and technology-enabled cities.

With an overall vision set out by a city’s leaders, groups working on tactical solutions to specific issues are increasingly deploying IOT solutions to deliver projects. This is a less complicated means of delivering solutions, which is faster, easier and less frightening. What’s more, it’s working.

Adopting an IOT approach has been significantly boosted by the rapid reduction both in the cost of connectivity and data transmission, as well as the cost and power requirements of sensors. Many IOT projects rely on connecting large numbers of sensors to enable the aggregation and analysis of data.

At its most basic, managing city infrastructure is about sensing and actuating. The IOT adds scale and intelligence. For example, sensors can alert where and when a trash can needs emptying, so it can be dealt with in a timely and cost-effective manner. The IOT can also coordinate this with recycling/sorting centers to further reduce costs and optimize resources.

Solving the challenges that emerge when large numbers of people and businesses inhabit the same space, is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. IOT deployment represents a transformation now, but successful projects will simply become the new business as usual. Ten years ago e-Government was a big deal; today it’s just how we do things. The same thing is happening with the smart city — soon we will drop the “smart” and simply focus on the “city”.

The utopia that I and many others aspire to will see IOT projects joined together across cities and possibly national boundaries, optimizing efficiency and cost savings whilst maximizing benefits to citizens and businesses. Right now only a very few courageous cities such as Barcelona and Dubai dare to aim so high, but as others take even baby steps through discrete projects the process of transformation can only continue to gain momentum.