Smart Cities: From Silos to Cross-Border Approach

Smart Cities: From Silos to Cross-Border Approach

Ralf-Martin Soe
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2018040105
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This paper introduces a new dimension to conceptualising smart cities – a cross-border approach for heterogeneous cities. There is a mutual agreement between smart city scholars that cities are smart when they reduce silos and enable better flow of data between city functions and services. This paper focuses on the cross-border aspect of smart cities and claims that ICT in cities do not automatically lead to ubiquitous services across the cities. This can even lead to more fragmentation compared to pre-ICT area. A new model for joint digital services in the cross-border cities – the Urban Operating System – is proposed and will be evaluated in context of two Northern European cities with high commuting frequency: Helsinki and Tallinn.
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ICT deployment in cities can effectively integrate databases, functions and services, thus, create smart cities. On the other hand, it can do the opposite as well: implementation of legally and technologically locked-in solutions can drive inter-city connections apart. Isolated APIs and procurement regulations can lead to cities as technological islands instead. This can have adverse effects, transformation from interoperable to fragmented services. For example, mobile parking and public transport payments depends on local regulation and can vary across cities. What about cross-border heterogeneous cities?

This paper analyses the case of Tallinn and Helsinki, two Northern European capitals with high of commuting frequency. Millions of commutes in this relatively densely populated area demand for joint cross-border services, although public authorities often fail to provide them. Some smart city developments can even have adverse effects and can effectively lead to the situation with limited not advanced solutions for commuters.

As smart city concepts continue developing over time, this paper argues that one crucial component of smart cities is collaboration on many layers: political, business and technological. In other words, no city is smart, independent of size, when smart city solutions are developed in isolation. In the area of free movement of people and goods, smart city services need to follow actual mobility patterns. From the business point of view, digital single market is a critical component for success: best smart city services can be scaled. The problem relevant for cities within one country as well as international ones.

This paper introduces the Urban Operating System (OS) that aims to contribute to the emergence of digital single market in the urban context. The Urban OS, proposed by the Carlo Ratti Associati for the FINEST Twins project, makes bottom-up joint smart city services possible. In the digital area, independently developed digital services tend to be locked into specific standards making future cross-border services difficult and sometimes improbable. The Urban Operating System makes it possible, at least on the visionary level, to design ubiquitous urban services. The ubiquitous solutions not only contribute to strengthening the Digital Single Market by increasing the aggregate supply, but also mitigate digital divide and empower local communities.

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