The golden rule of smart economics could be this: the more high quality data that goes in, the more value it creates. Yet, as our report, The foundation for smart city success: Seven layers of data governance and management, reveals, not all data — and therefore not all smart cities — are created equally.
Currently, many smart cities are really just isolated smart projects: services that are valuable — such as LED street lights or pothole reporting — but without an integrated ecosystem, these point services lack the granular data and sources that lead to exponential value growth. When initiatives are connected, and data shared between them, more sophisticated systems become feasible. For example, using the data from smartphones, smart transit cards and facial recognition-enabled payment mechanisms as part of a city-wide payment system roll out.
But whether building a smart point of service, or a smart ecosystem, data governance and management is becoming increasingly imperative. No longer just a good idea, it may amount to the critical difference between an initiative that wins stakeholder support, and one that becomes mired in delays and controversy. A top-notch data strategy, however, can deliver new profits for businesses, new revenue streams for government, a more fertile environment for innovation, and better services for residents and local businesses; all in support of sustainable growth.
Analysis of global best practice indicates that the most successful strategies for public and private entities are built on seven layers of data governance and management. Using this model, smart cities — and the companies that help build and operate them — can achieve a digital ecosystem where data is properly prepared, processed for consent, securely collected, anonymised and stored, and offers a platform for rapid, innovative monetisation. In brief, the seven layers are:
Using these seven layers, public and private stakeholders will be able to create a strong base to build smart cities on. To do so, roles and mandates must be transformed to turn data into value and win public support. Local and federal authorities, such as privacy commissioners, will need to be engaged, as will smart infrastructure providers, and external data governance and privacy experts. Critically, the public must be rigorously consulted through digital and physical means.
Cities have two potential futures when it comes to proceeding with their smart build. A flawed data governance and management strategy can cripple smart city initiatives — leaving significant value on the table and increasing the potential for a public or regulatory backlash which could end the project altogether. Declining services and falling revenue bases will lead residents and businesses to flee to places with better quality of life and ease of commerce.
On the other hand, with smart infrastructure and superior services that are set up according to best practice — like the seven steps above — cities can look forward to happy residents, low taxes and a light environmental footprint. Sustainable growth and an environment that attracts growing and innovative businesses along with top talent will inevitably follow.
These cities will realise their potential benefits, both financially and in the quality of life of their inhabitants, but to do so they need the critical foundation that will allow them to be fully realised: a high-quality data governance and management strategy.
The smart course is clear.
For real world examples of smart cities that have successfully implemented best-practice data governance and management, download the full report, The foundation for smart city success.
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