Future Cities Thinking - A White Paper

Future Cities Thinking — Future Cities and Communities by Design

This white paper outlines the case for taking a fresh look at ‘future cities and communities’ (or ‘smart cities’) and provides a methodology for doing so. A common frustration of citizens and other city stakeholders is the fragmentation and lack of interoperability or connectivity between otherwise innovative services and solutions.

The author argues that this is an outcome of how stakeholders think about innovation in cities. He advocates a ‘by design’ approach to city challenges and innovation in contrast to ad hoc or serendipitous approaches such as open data strategies. He cautions against technology-led approaches such as ‘Internet of Things’; data-led approaches such as open data strategies; or approaches that focus solely on point solutions to point problems while neglecting a holistic view.

The paper proposes a methodology and framework for thinking ‘top down’ from goals and vision to the associated: use cases; requirements; and design blueprints; down to the fundamental data and physical infrastructure; the governance, marketplace and business models; and the supporting eco-system of policies, regulations, agreements and standards required to support those goals. 

The paper introduces a new concept of ‘data infrastructure’ as a term that encapsulates the foundational intangibles of: the data; the computer models; the analytics; and the data flows that underpin future solutions and goals for a city.

This is infrastructure in the sense that it is foundational and should be designed and planned in advance of need in a similar manner to physical infrastructure. By linking the required data infrastructure to citizen-focused goals, the methodology provides a framework to ascertain and prioritise future-proof and high-impact data infrastructure elements as worthy of early attention.

The process also highlights trade-offs between, for example, privacy and a vision for a future service. The paper touches on strategies to improve ‘innovation efficiency’, that is, strategies to achieve maximum benefit from innovation investment in future cities. It also recognises that the benefits of access to good data infrastructure goes beyond building and rejuvenating better cities. It can underpin an innovation ecosystem that builds capability that can be exported to the world.

Dr Neil Temperley writes this thought-provoking white paper for CSIRO's Data61.

Download the full report here.

Dr Neil Temperley (PhD)
Executive Product Manager
Future Cities Transport and Logistics Living Lab Mentor Data61
E: neil.temperley@gmail.com
P +61 2 9490 5663
M: +61 409 813 008