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More and more of the world’s population is becoming urban—the current figure is 50 percent—and it is increasing. As the world’s cities expand, so their influence on the planet grows.
Large concentrations of people can generate positive outcomes. They provide personal and professional opportunities, and stimulate local and national economies. They enhance productivity, and they can be a hothouse for many different types of creativity. On the other hand, these large concentrations of people can pose a risk to the planet by contributing to overcrowding, excessive carbon emissions and waste, and high consumption of non-renewable resources.
Cities, including city governments and the businesses that drive cities’ growth, therefore have a responsibility for effective stewardship of the people and resources on which the city relies. In this in-depth paper, Accenture argues for the need to develop intelligent cities that use sophisticated open technology platforms to deliver higher-quality services more consistently to citizens and businesses at reduced cost—and that can adapt to risks like climate change, growing populations and aging infrastructures.
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As the world’s population increasingly migrates to major urban centers, the influence of cities on the planet—their technologies, businesses, forms of government, resource consumption, the quality of life they enable and much more—rises to greater and greater levels.
Thus, cities—city governments as well as the businesses that drive much of the growth of a city and its citizens—bear great responsibility for the effective stewardship of people and the environment. This need to create a responsible, sustainable living environment exists side by side with another important goal: the need to create an attractive economic and social environment in which citizens, companies and government live, work and interact.
Call this situation for cities one of establishing “competitive responsibility”—becoming attractive to business and citizens to maintain economic viability, while guiding ongoing initiatives according to the principles of sustainable development. These dual goals are at the heart of what we call an “Intelligent City.”
One of the most important contributing factors to the fragmented nature of many current approaches to becoming an Intelligent City is a city’s legacy technology environment, which is usually the result of proprietary, closed infrastructures and technology systems. Information systems and physical infrastructures often come into being on an ad hoc basis—based on the needs of the moment.
Over time, these systems take on lives of their own; those within one city department become costly to maintain and integrate with other related departments. The negative impact of this fragmentation can be felt in excess costs, diminished services and an infrastructure that is not agile enough to adapt to the needs of the future.
Accenture believes, therefore, that one of the most important enablers for an Intelligent City is an open, interoperable and scalable platform that provides intelligent infrastructure functionality as a service and allows for optimal resource management.
The distinctive aspects of an Intelligent City are the dual characteristics of being (1) sustainable and (2) attractive.
That is, the environmental dimension of Intelligent Cities is more than just a moral obligation. Sustainability is important for its positive social consequences, but also because it is a key factor in creating a livable environment—one conducive to the health and prosperity of a city and its citizens and businesses.
We believe the following are especially important factors to be considered while plotting a course toward becoming an Intelligent City:
Encourage and develop new forms of leadership and governance structures.
Align and engage all relevant stakeholders.
Assemble the capabilities to drive an open, intelligent infrastructure.
Extend managers' capabilities in program management and delivery.
Create financial models that are up to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
August 8, 2011
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