sAs the final project in my master's degree in strategic design and management from Parsons, I worked on a project for Deutsche Telekom that would provide new and interesting business models for their smart city projects.
Interviews with Eli Konvitz from Atkins and theUrban Land Institute (ULI)
Interview with representative from massive IoT maker UnaBiz
We interviewed people working in various aspects of smart cities from all over the world, particularly in Asia, where smart city adoption has outpaced that of Europe and the U.S. Deutsche Telekom asked us for radical ideas for how they might rethink their current business model as it relates to smart cities. Throughout our research, a few key themes emerged. We chose design goals to address these key themes.
Smart cities are an astoundingly complex topic, with multiple layers of technology, data privacy, and infrastructure all needing to align to function. Additionally, any city must meet the basic needs of its citizens before any major smart city project can be undertaken at scale.
Data management and privacy is a sticky problem that must be addressed for smart city technology to take hold.
There is no simple roadmap for a government to learn about and implement smart city technology
The terminology often used in technology related services often adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the decision making process.
Problem Frames To begin exploring solutions, we framed the problem in the following ways.
If the situation is approached as if it is a problem of making accessing city services as simple as an Amazon purchase, the solution should be a digital profile for each citizen that easily shows all city services they can benefit from. The app should allow for online completion of normal tasks, driver’s license renewal, utility bills, school communications, municipal events, waste collection, etc.
It the situation is approached as if it is a problem of getting the public to accept smart city applications and the data privacy issues they entail, the solution should be:
A citizen led competition to decide the best implementation of smart city tech
A citizen led campaign to decide what level of data collection is acceptable
If the situation is approached as a problem of maintaining data privacy, the solution should be built around technology that does not require individual data such as:
Smart public transit - show locations of busses, trains, etc.
Smart bike share, scooter share - like lime already does
Smart parking - same level of personal data shared when using Google maps
Smart traffic routing - based on number of cars in specific locations, not based on cell phone location data
If the situation is approached as a problem of becoming the leading integrated telecommunications provider in Germany (Europe), the solution should be:
Offer smart city as a subscription.
Work with equipment manufacturers to devise simple solutions that can be deployed in 2 months or less.
Allow cities to subscribe to smart services for a year or two at a time, rather than committing to a permanent solution.
Proposed Solution Together with my design partner, Ally Galindo, we designed a website to greatly simplify the onboarding process for a mayor wishing to implement smart city infrastructure in their city. We distilled the onboarding process for smart city solutions to the simplest form and proposed a low-risk subscription based model for cities.