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The data revolution is changing businesses and governments. According to IDC, the global annual data production will grow to 163 zettabytes by 2025. By improving data quality and data governance processes, investing in big data and analytics solutions and competencies, and establishing data-driven decision-making culture and processes, public and private organizations will transform from reactive to proactive intelligent enterprises.

The economic competition among cities has reached a whole new level. Cities are competing globally and regionally to attract more businesses and talent that will make them a protagonist of the fourth industrial revolution. As a result, 70% of the world population will live in cities by 2050, putting a strain on infrastructure and services. Smart cities of the future will invest in digital solutions to achieve quality of life and economic growth.

When two fundamental transformations, like the data revolution and the competition to be the smart city of the future collide, the change is bound to be exponential. Incremental change will not be sufficient. Visionary city leaders will embrace business model innovation to re-imagine public services and to make the urban infrastructure resilient. Data will be the strategic asset that empowers business model innovation by delivering instant insights that decision makers across the city ecosystem can turn into action.

Business Model Innovation Impact City Life Positively

Business model innovation will impact all aspects of a city’s life in the next ten years. Living in the city will change. Personalized services, predictive policing, and civic participation will make people and non-profit organizations feel safer, more engaged with governments and happy to live in their communities. The economy will change. Job marketplaces, public private partnerships for economic development, intelligent revenue collection and personalized, meaningful shopping experiences will empower cities to collaborate with businesses, academia and communities to invest in economic growth and welfare. City governance will change. Community budgeting, outcome-based contracting and evidence-based policy making will empower city administrators to be innovative stewards of public resources. Mobility will change. E-Mobility, multi-modal mobility, network logistic hubs, and demand-based transit will enable city planners, public transportation companies, automotive and logistic providers to move people and goods seamlessly, safely, and in an easy and sustainable manner. The urban environment and infrastructure will change. Predictive maintenance and swarm network intelligence, digital prosumers and green bonds will enable local governments, utilities, businesses, and citizens to enhance the energy sustainability and the resilience of the city.

Data-Driven Innovation Is the Ladder

Data will be the ladder to climb the exponential path to business model innovation in cities. When municipal social service departments want to make data-based decisions on critical social policies, like fighting homelessness, or recidivism, they need to integrate data from their own case databases, from hospitals, from veteran affairs, from the criminal justice system in a secure way. They need to apply advanced analytics to discover the root causes of the problem, predict outcomes and embed insights into re-designed business processes that proactively help citizens in need. They need to provide real-time access to strategic performance management indicators to monitor the progress of the programs. When utilities issue green bonds to make investments in alternative energy sources and micro-grids that enable citizens and businesses to produce their own energy – digital prosumers – consume it at lower prices and with lower emissions, they need to collect granular data from their grid, weather forecast, and account for seasonality factors, like peaks of tourism. They need to apply machine learning to forecast supply and demand so that they can optimize grid management. They need to use blockchain, IoT and analytics to track qualitative and quantitative KPIs used to repay the bonds in a trusted manner. When logistic providers want to optimize first and last mile delivery to offer a more customer-centric service at lower cost, they need to orchestrate data from their parcel order systems, in-vehicle IoT devices in their fleet, traffic management information, and e-charging points. They need to apply machine learning to optimize their scheduling and routing processes. They need to know customers’ preferences about time and location of delivery in real-time to offer dynamic pricing options and re-design their deliver operating model.

Many cities worldwide have started down this path. The City of Den Bosch launched the SafeToBike solution for children and senior citizens. A smart bicycle bell is connected to the smartphone of the cyclist. The phone continuously matches the GPS location with a database containing the data of where bike accidents happen and activates the bell when approaching dangerous locations. Data comes from insurers and the police. The rider can also add hazardous locations, in a true example of civic participation.

City leaders that want to win the competition for businesses and talent over the next ten years must collaborate with their ecosystem of utilities, transportation companies, logistic providers, high-tech, startups, insurance companies, healthcare and academia to invest in intelligent digital solutions that empower data-driven business model innovation. Digital platforms will deliver hybrid transactional and analytical data processing solutions that enable to innovate within and across the city mobility, governance, urban environment, citizen and living and economy domains. The leaders that master this exponential transformation will make their cities green and sustainable, easy to get around, accountable to their citizens and have happy and healthy communities. They will bring together livability and prosperity.

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