Impact of Digital Transformation on Smart City Development

Author photo: Chris Cunnane
ByChris Cunnane
Technology Trends

Jim Frazer Discusses the Impact of Digital Transformation on Smart City Development

The ARC Industry Forum 2020, which happened in Orlando, Florida, focused on “Digital Transformation.”  Digital transformation is defined, in simple terms, as the process of integrating digital technologies into business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet the changing business and market requirements.  

During the course of the Forum, Chris Cunnane of ARC had a conversation with Jim Frazer of ARC on the impact of digital transformation on Smart Cities in particular.  This blog focuses on the highlights and quotes of the interview.  The full interview can be viewed here and/or on YouTube.          


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What are the impacts of digital transformation on Smart Cities?

According to Mr. Frazer, “ARC specializes in digital transformation.  The three pillars of digital transformation do also apply to Smart Cities.  The first, of course, is a technology refresh or technology updating.  We all know about the dramatic technology improvements that are happening in the world today, from IoT, digital twins, to machine learning, and artificial intelligence, but that's not the only pillar.  Those technologies also drive the redoing of your business processes, which is the second pillar.

“You'd be remiss if you left out the third pillar of that equation, which really is the cultural adaptation of your workforce that often might even be the biggest challenge to overcome.”

Strategies All Smart Cities Need to Implement

Mr. Frazer’s comments on this were, “By far, some of the obstacles are the siloes of technologies and of people.  There are many different departments in public agencies, from cities, counties, states, to highway authorities.  So overall, a Smart City Platform strategy is really what's required.  That includes all the sensors out in the field, edge devices, the backhaul infrastructure, as well as all the data analytics, digital twins, and single pane of glass at the headend.

“It's important to remember that public agencies have a range of typically nine verticals that are generally accepted as part of the Smart City domain.  That’s energy infrastructure, transportation, water and wastewater, waste management, public services, public services of police and fire.  You need to wrap all of those into one unified interoperable backhaul network called the Smart City Platform.”

What are the obstacles to Smart City development and deployment?

To this, Mr. Frazer replied, “One of the largest is interoperability.  We have a range of legacy systems out there across those nine applications in the Smart City domain, and many of them don't work with each other.  So interoperability really needs to be achieved.

“There are some initiatives in that area in terms of standards that are driving that forward.  The US Department of Transportation, in fact, has a range of interoperable standards for everything, for almost every device that fits on a highway.  Lastly, the user needs – one of the biggest obstacles is that there is a plethora of stakeholder communities that need to be corralled.  You need to find their needs, achieve consensus, and refine them into measurable requirements that can become an RFI or an RFP.”

How do Smart City advocates engage with the ARC Smart Cities team?

“The Smart Cities effort here at ARC is relatively new.  It started about five years ago.  We have a range of outreach activities, from blog posts, to a weekly podcast, to biweekly IEEE Smart City webinars.  We’re coming up this month with a weekly email newsletter.

“Those are all great ways for advocates and people interested in the domain to learn more by interacting with ARC.  And, of course, all of that requires quite a bit of content.  If you’d like to contribute and write a guest blog post or be an interviewee on a podcast or host an IEEE Smart Cities webinar and present on that platform, we’d love to have them in our domain,” Mr. Frazer concluded.



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