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How enterprise architecture can drive the digital transformation of smart cities

3 Mins read

Digital-based urbanisation has the potential to provide streamlined services for citizens to work, live, collaborate, communicate and consume services. Digitising public services, information sources and processes gives local authorities the potential to create a more sustainable environment, grow local economies, and improve the overall quality of life for citizens.

Across the UK, the Triangulum project in Manchester and the Smart City OS in Hull have already delivered outcomes such as overall reductions in carbon footprint and reliance on the national grid to smart street light and traffic control solutions. In the south, the Smarter London Together initiative has produced deliverables ranging from making digital technologies more accessible to citizens of Lewisham, to a broader strategic vision for Greenwich.

The challenges with creating well-functioning smart cities come with knowing how to manage the multitude of data sources and processes, and the inherent complexity of aligning them in order to achieve a common purpose.  This article looks at the potential of enterprise architecture (EA) for providing the baseline for the digital transformation of smart cities and delivering better public services.

Technology and smart cities 

Smart cities fundamentally aim to utilise IT and communications to improve and integrate public services to improve quality of life and provide a more sustainable environment for future generations.

Well planned smart cities represent technological heavens that help to monitor, control and facilitate security and better access to information for quick decision making. This requires a variety of information sources to be brought together in a common framework that can be used to produce tangible outcomes for citizens.

Examples of digital initiatives in practice for citizens in their daily lives can be more accessible and efficient online public services, smartphone applications to track bus arrivals, and digital integration between GPs, hospitals and social care providers.

Transformation does not work in silos

Historically, public services epitomise silos. Hospital systems could not communicate digitally with GPs, schools could not communicate with social services, and so on. This is a problem, since according to McKinsey, 70% of transformation projects fail due to incomplete information.

To develop an efficient smart city infrastructure, being able to break down these legacy silos and understand how everything connects is vital. The concept of smart cities is underpinned by having clear visibility on data, processes, IT assets and risks across the many different data sources that constitute public services.

Creating an effective transformation that can capitalise on the available data sources requires a clear structure. Since city administrations and public services are essentially formed of hundreds of different entities, each with their own data sources, technology, processes and social aspects, this is no easy task.

Enterprise architecture and smart cities 

In the case of a smart city infrastructure, the ‘customer’ is a local resident or visitor to the city. Putting those customers at the centre of the transformation means reducing the silos that currently exist across the delivery of public services, effectively integrating data sources, and reducing complexity to produce a better standard of living.

The way it allows data, infrastructure and technology to be standardised means that EA is integral for smart cities to function successfully. Unifying and integrating data sources into a common platform is the basis from which deeper value can be created and citizen outcomes enhanced.

A well-planned, next generation EA provides the platform from which to build a smart city. Creating a business plan and architecture vision enables problem definitions, objectives, processes and responsibilities to be aligned to form a coherent business layer.

A well planned, outcome-driven EA framework also provides the agility for smart cities to adapt to ever-changing citizen needs. Because agile EA is able to apply these common terminologies and concepts, technology resources can be utilised to support new smart initiatives.

Doing so helps local authorities to plan, design and document this vast array of data sources and processes into a coherent platform. From there, it is possible to communicate IT and business outcomes in different formats to a variety of stakeholders.

In summary 

By aligning IT, information systems and processes from across public services entities, EA plays a pivotal role in creating optimal smart cities. Through its ability to illustrate relationships between technologies, applications and processes, EA can break down the silos that otherwise risk holding back smart cities from their full potential.

Next generation approaches to EA also provides the foundation for local authorities to select and plan future technology investments to avoid overlaps and redundancies. This has the potential to optimise the utilisation of public funding by providing a greater visibility of technology assets. EA also provides an holistic understanding of technologies, processes and dependencies for different stakeholders to effectively plan and improve public services to deliver better community outcomes.

Source: www.techuk.org.com

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