Data Analytics is Key to Developing a Long-Term Smart City Roadmap

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Data Analytics is Key to Developing a Long-Term Smart City Roadmap

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Smart communications technologies and data analytics can help shape smart city roadmaps
Thursday, June 2, 2016 - 4:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Smart City/Smart Utility

CONTENT: Article

Communities that were “first movers” in the smart city arena are ending their test phases and expanding to a second phase, yet it is clear that communications technologies and data analytics should be adopted to help lay the groundwork for a broader roadmap.

Black & Veatch’s 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City/Smart Utility report showed that survey respondents were all over the map in terms of how investment decisions are made and what systems should be focused on first.

“With all this complexity, attention is turning to how smart communications technologies and data analytics can be used to help shape, define and validate smart city roadmaps,” said Scott Stallard, Vice President, Black & Veatch’s power business.

Stallard said these tools need to be used beyond individual smart city initiatives.

“Increasingly, data analytics and communications technologies are being thought of as foundational systems,” he said. “They not only integrate and streamline city operations, but they also enable smart city decisions.”

Determining Investment Decisions

For municipalities, determining what smart city systems to invest in, when and how, is no easy task, according to Gary Hawkins, Solution Lead for Black & Veatch’s Smart Integrated Infrastructure business.

“These tools are being deployed ahead of – and throughout the planning process – because they enable visibility into the systems and processes that support smart cities, including the plethora of investment options,” Hawkins said.

He said in order to get utilities, businesses, regulators and constituents on board, establishing and communicating the value proposition is key. Using data analytics and visualization to compare and communicate the benefits and risks of different investments serves to accelerate this process.

“These large-scale projects are increasingly beginning with a roadmap, further underscoring that long-term goals are driving second-phase initiatives,” Hawkins said.

Cost Pressures Cause Concerns

Transparency of options can impact financing, and data analytics allow that visibility, said Craig Watson, Network Services Manager, Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business.

“For municipalities that are looking to partner with utilities, they are better able to explain the realistic financial implications of their involvement in smart city programs and activities,” Watson said. “In the past, that level of insight was challenging.”

Survey respondents said that long-term vision was the top driver for new smart communications technologies. “That underscores that it takes vision to prioritize foundational tools, especially when trying to demonstrate across-the-board benefits, which sometimes can be difficult to quantify,” he said.

Today, adaptive, scenario-based planning tools are enabling broader and deeper views into the many smart city opportunities, as well as the associated tradeoffs, Watson said. Engaging vendors in the road mapping conversation makes the process inclusive and exposes planning to a greater degree of collaboration.

This process places an emphasis on engagement and can prompt participants to develop plans that are actionable and can meet their return on investment goals, Watson said.

“The importance of roadmaps cannot be overstated,” he said. “They take an objective and identify a pathway to get there.”

Keywords: Technology | Black & Veatch | Business & Trade | Business Surveys | Energy | Energy Efficiency | Environment & Climate Change | Environmental Business | Finance | Finance & Socially Responsible Investment | Green Innovations

CAMPAIGN: Smart City/Smart Utility

CONTENT: Article