Smart Cities Week – Washington D.C. 2019

Eden is thrilled to share a panel with distinguished speakers at Smart Cities Week in Washington, D.C. (From left: Moderator Chungha Cha, Chair of Re-imagining Cities Foundation; Calvin Chu, Partner, Eden Strategy Institute; The Hon Marlene Kairouz, MP, Minister for Suburban Development, State Government of Victoria, Australia; (in red) Mayor Fatna Sahin of Gaziantep Province, Turkey and President of the Turkish Union of Municipalities; Thilo Zelt, Partner at Roland Berger; and Albert Graves, Program Director of WeGO).

At our session on “International Smart Cities: Lessons from Abroad” today, Eden shared its recent work on how developments at the scale of a smart estate can allow for tighter integration and coordinated service delivery than at the smart district or city level, with many self-contained, Citizen-Centric, Circular Smart Estates aggregating to accelerate the development of smart cities.

We learnt about how Melbourne considers its numerous smart city initiatives as experiments, how important correctly timing was to their investments, and how they are still working hard to regain their lead as the world’s most liveable city.

We also heard about how cities in Turkey, experiencing a rapid influx of half a million Syrian refugees, are all competing to develop their infrastructure, security, energy, water, health, education, and to make their citizens happy. Mayor Sahin stressed the importance of a carefully-planned strategy and how they need a smart city masterplan, and exhorted, “In the 21st century, whichever city develops the best institutional capability in data will be the most competitive.”

Next, WeGO shared on the 20,000 cities globally that are trying to be smart, and the importance of partnerships among governments, solution providers, and consultants. They also award a $100,000 grant each year to one city to conduct a smart city feasibility study!

Roland Berger shared how it compared strategies across 153 cities in its smart city strategy index, and is helping launch a national competence centre for the German government to collect best practice cases and organize dialogues.

It was heartening to see that many western cities are also undergoing similar issues of engaging citizens, managing costs, and ensuring digital inclusion, and that smaller cities like Singapore in fact benefit from being adequately resourced to make bold investments, while being able to introduce smart city initiatives without being encumbered by too much state/local government or inter-agency bureaucracy.