This short article is based on the results of the project Skills4Cities, an Erasmus+ project and in particular on the “Toolkit for smart city competencies framework”.
The Smart City concept continues to be a subject to debate, and definitions of smart cities vary. However, in most cases, smart cities are connected to initiatives that use digital innovation to make urban service delivery more efficient and thereby increase the overall competitiveness of a community. With the development of new technological innovations, the concept of the Smart City is mostly being engaged with the understanding to achieve more efficient and sustainable cities.
Cities are becoming smart not only in terms of the stage of their technological development, but also in ways that enable us to monitor, understand, analyse, and plan the city in order to improve the urban performance. While digital innovation remains central to the smart city concept, a key question is whether an investment in smart technologies and digital innovations ultimately contribute to improving the well-being of citizens. The human-centric approach is also considered key to making a city smarter. That is why in a recent OECD publication (Smart Cities and Inclusive Growth, 2020) smart cities initiatives are defined as “initiatives or approaches that effectively leverage digitalization to boost citizen well-being and deliver more efficient, sustainable and inclusive urban services and environments as part of a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process”.
After an in-depth study under the Skills4Cities project, of recent reports on the problems, constraints, and challenges which the smart city projects face the project team identified the main challenges related to the development, management, and implementation of Smart City projects.
The urban organism is a complex system, involving many different domains, infrastructures, organizations, and activities. All these systems need to integrate and work together effectively for that city to become smart. This integration needs to take place at many levels, technical, but also about the integration of business processes and management, integrated strategies, and regulations. It is clearly impossible to develop a single model of a smart city that will be simple enough and at the same time enough comprehensive to cover all the key aspects. While urban infrastructure may provide facilities to the citizens, it can only be converted into smart solutions and services through the use of digital technology. Digital technology has the main role in the implementation of Smart City solutions in the city.
While implementation of the Digital technology solution shall immensely enhance the effectiveness of the urban infrastructure, there is very little capacity amongst the city administrators to understand and implement such technology solutions effectively. Thus, the cities and the professionals working in this field face innumerable challenges in implementing Smart City projects.
Of course, this list below is not entirely exhaustive and probably there are many other challenges that arise due to the complexity of those projects. However, the Skills4Cities partners agreed they are most common and relevant in relation to the skill gaps of the experts who are involved in such projects:
Considering the above-mentioned findings could be concluded that the biggest issues when implementing Smart City projects are not about the technology itself but rather the problems that arise when the ideas have to be put into action and related to these professionals with relevant expertise and specific competencies that are able to either develop or manage or implement such complex and multidisciplinary projects as the Smart City ones. Therefore, all of the above-mentioned challenges require a specific set of skills and knowledge to be a smart city professional/practitioner. Such professionals who have a good understating of the underlying information and communication technology, effective management of such technology-intensive projects, good procurement and financial acumen, and great communication skills, will alone be successful in implementing such projects.
@Cluster Sofia Knowledge City