In a recent guest post by Andrew Hamilton, he looked at the future of urbanization and what a holistic approach means in actual urban development. As a follow-up to the story, he offers these key to success.
1) Focus on the city’s main goal or identity
While cities and large developments share many concerns and challenges, each one has a unique mix of issues. Is it concerned about accommodating existing growth or attracting more growth? Is it looking mainly to improve livability, or to make it easier for businesses to operate? Would it like to double down on its existing strengths as a city, or shift the economy in new areas? Some cities and developers find it helpful to focus on a simple theme or vision. London, for example, is investing heavily in making it easier for residents to access, analyze, and exchange data. While any smart urbanization project should lay the foundations for future capabilities in many areas, it’s essential to focus actual investments in a few areas with the greatest consensus and payoff. Pursuing multiple areas will make timely delivery on these already complex projects nearly impossible.
2) Rethink your RFP relationships with vendors
Governments and developers have relied on the RFP-based vendor management process for good reasons, but this structure gets in the way of integrated developments. It’s especially important to start working early with a knowledgeable guide that can work with you for the long term. It’s time to create new negotiating processes that enable Urban 4.0 while still featuring accountability and protecting the public.
3) Focus on transformational improvements
Smart urbanization involves an array of sophisticated technologies that offer big benefits over the status quo. With political and budgetary pressures, it will be tempting to aim at a flashy, short-term gain rather than to invest in capabilities that will pay off much more in the long term. Avoid that fate by setting out a blueprint for the vision that will drive public plans and accountability, without constraining your ability to adjust with evolving technology and city or client needs. Quick wins can help build momentum and support, but should not divert you from achieving even more valuable results.
4) Reassess the citywide approach
With the rise of supercities, governments and developers will want to break the urbanization challenge into pockets of about five square kilometers. That’s large enough to deliver all the smart services—energy, education, micromobility, food, recreation, entertainment, and job creation—within a contained and sustainable ecosystem. In especially dense areas, a large single mixed-use development could serve as an urban pocket. These highly integrated neighborhoods, combining work and residence, can improve transportation and overall livability while reducing the cost of living. They are also commercially attractive to private developers.
Photo credit: Roberto Saltori