Promises of smart city benefits present a challenge for cities as they must plan for new technology-led initiatives that are often beyond their existing capacities. “It is amazing to see cities rely on traditional transportation models, such as an analysis of transportation destination that is conducted every four years,” says Victor Mulas, Senior Operations Officer, who leads the agenda on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Cities at the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice. “When you show them the benefits of real-time data, they sometimes doubt it works.”
He attributes public sector skepticism to inertia to change. “First you need authority to change the planning process. Then you need a champion inside the system who has the knowledge to do that and who is very persistent,” Mr. Mulas suggests. Involving businesses and citizens in smart city planning typically only happens after those key ingredients are in place, which can take time, but is often viewed as the wave of the future in terms of good governance.