Smarter cities

By Stijn Viaene, professor of Management Information Systems
(Source: Smart Business Strategies, 12/2012)

  • Professor at KU Leuven and Vlerick Business School
  • Partner at Vlerick Business School
  • Deloitte Research Chair Bringing IT to Board Level

These days European and other authorities get quite excited when we touch on the issue of innovation in a number of large European cities. This innovation is based around the ‘smart cities’ concept, that is cities where sustainable development and the wellbeing of the inhabitants is approached from a fundamentally different angle. We are talking about cities like Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bologna and London. But our very own Ghent also gets a look in.

The Smart City World Congress in Barcelona last month welcomed no less than 7000 visitors from 82 countries. And there’s no escaping the fact that in this context a lot is expected of the new ICT. All the cities have underlined and highlighted big (open) data, big analytics, social media, mobility and cloud computing in their agendas.

Mobility experiments with huge amounts of sensor data in an ‘internet of things’ on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia. London’s plans for the rollout of an ‘urban operating system’ where the city and third parties can offer ‘smart services’ to the citizen to their heart’s content. Amsterdam’s West Orange project where a couple of hundred dwellings are fitted with digital displays for energy management and other home electronics. These are just a few of the strategic initiatives which are getting me enthusiastic. They’re a breathtaking preview of the digital possibilities of the future.

Whether or not the current experiments actually result in smart cities doesn’t actually depend on the technological opportunities. The fate of our cities is in the hands of the political and administrative decision makers. I am somewhat concerned that so few of them have a Chief Information Officer. Firms such as Cisco and IBM do an absolutely sterling job as purveyors to the most ambitious cities. But who is thinking along with these people? Who is offering the necessary response? Or would our city leaders prefer to outsource the portfolio and strategic ICT decisions to these third parties?

Related news

  1. What is the impact of FinTech in Belgium?

    Date: 26/01/2018
    Category: Opinions
    This was the big question at the second edition of the FinTech Belgium Summit – an event which explores the latest trends and showcases local and international best practice. Our Masters and MBA students joined 550 participants to network, gain new insights and listen to banking and insurance executives share their experiences. Vlerick FinTech expert Tine Holvoet - who gave a provocative speech on societal impact - says this year’s summit was less about buzz and more about analytics. This shows the industry is maturing.
  2. ‘We should be proud of this new European standard’

    Date: 17/01/2018
    Category: Opinions
    The much-discussed European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force at the end of May 2018. This new data and privacy legislation is causing a fair amount of concern in the corporate world. Nonetheless, Jo Coutuer, chief data officer at BNP Paribas Fortis and Öykü Isik, professor of Data Privacy at Vlerick Business School, mainly see it as a source of opportunities: ‘Privacy by design will be the new standard, and this is a good thing.’
All articles