4. Establish governance and practices
The development of a smart precinct is commercially and strategically complex, bringing together different parties from the technology and property sectors, and delivering multi-network infrastructure. Establish governance and practices to clarify who is doing what to deliver the technology and service amenity, and to ensure that the full extent of capability is factored into the design and construction of surrounding sub-infrastructure in a meaningful way.
Every smart precinct requires clear practices and governance around data, to ensure security, trust and privacy. Cyber security, for instance, is not an add-on and should be integral to a broader risk management strategy.
5. Form delivery partnerships
Who will deliver the innovation and amenity citizens want in this precinct? The principle of co-design depends upon continued consultation with citizens, as well as stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Collaborations and consortia (eg. a cluster of local councils) can dramatically improve the prospects of funding, risk mitigation, and successful delivery.
Here, it’s important to know how to engage with different industries and stakeholders across the market. Target outcomes must be clearly articulated so that everyone understands (and aligns their activities to) these end goals.
Various stakeholders can support innovation within a precinct, identifying quick wins, agreeing long term initiatives, and scoping potential funding sources and requirements.
Governments have an enabling role in this innovation, through ‘sandboxing’ and providing participants with a safe space to experiment and innovate prior to regulatory and planning frameworks being set.
While flexibility is key, governments do also have an important role to develop regulations and standards, and to promote the uptake of standards. One example is where citizen outcomes are embedded in commercial agreements to ensure that these are given priority from procurement through to delivery.
With smart precincts, flexibility for the future is also an important consideration. All technology eventually becomes obsolete and superseded, so project designs must anticipate the need for upgrades in the future. Standards and interoperability frameworks can clarify how tech solutions fit together to ensure future upgrades do not have unintended consequences. Engaging with tech providers and/or other local authorities can help clarify implementation steps and requirements.
6. Secure funding
Finally, determine how the project will be funded, as well as how to measure the benefits to citizens.
With governments at every level committing funds for smart infrastructure, now is the time for smart precincts to secure investment. Various models of investment exist, including joint investment, private financing, and traditional grant funding. Where public funding is needed, a strong case that demonstrates value for money and a positive economic return is needed.
While smart precincts have the potential to deliver value to residents in terms of improved quality of life, they can also drive the local economy. Quantifying these benefits and mapping the value delivered then becomes the basis for a business case.
To effectively demonstrate value, smart city initiatives should be measured with both quantitative assessments (such as cost-benefit analyses) and outcome indicators that reflect holistic gains for citizens. t
Some smart precinct business cases identify a ‘benefits catalogue’ to define the evidence base for how investments deliver short, medium and long term benefits. These catalogues can be used to both prioritise between options and to quantify the economic benefits of the selected project. In order to build a strong case for funding, the benefits to citizens, governments, and businesses should ideally be quantified and monetised to test return on investment (ROI) and help prioritise potential interventions.
When considering the business case for a smart precinct project, benefits must be framed in terms of the outcomes sought for key beneficiaries. Once funding is allocated and prioritised in different areas, governments can move towards executing a proof-of-concept solution.