So we are having fun talking to various cities here in the UK. A common discussion point is how these cities and regions will become more sustainable and smarter places to live and work. However, a consistent question raised is: " This being smarter is all well and good, but can you prove it?".
The answer is of course I can prove that taking information from a sensor and doing something useful will work. After all, it is just a bit of data, some soggy string connecting it all and something of interest entertaining your eyeballs. The killer question is. So What?
So What is key, because if it cannot be answered then it does beg the question... why bother with the hassle of enabling information streams, then analysing this information, coming up with something new and then acting on it? Simply creating a stream of data to tell you what you probably know (e.g. in traffic jam) is not good enough. What is required is a suitable action to take advantage of intelligent insight. Therefore, a transformation in process & approach is also part of this move to sustainability.
Therefore, to maximise the value of a smarter initiative or outcome, it is necessary to change approach and delivery too. This then maximes the return on investment made in obtaining the 'Intelligent Information' in the first place.
However, because this planet of ours is still in the starting blocks of its smarter journey, what is not fully codified or understood is how for a specific outcome that is desired or a challenge to be overcome, what is it exaclty is made smarter. Who is the beneficiary of being smart and why the RoI for one entitiy is not the same for others.
NOTE: I do not see this as a weakness by the way. This is because in comparitive scenarios - e.g. healthcare - health professionals still do not have a cure for cancer, yet we still treat this disease successfully!
So for 2013, I think we have to start building on known facts. This is my focus for this year. It will be interesting to see how this unravels....