Smart cities bring the promise of sustainability, efficiency and improved living standards for citizens, says Mark Walker, associate vice-president, Sub-Saharan Africa, at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.
"The main challenge for South African cities that aspire to become smart cities is the fact that in certain areas there are still some basic infrastructure shortcomings. Since there is a need for infrastructure developments, the solution could be building smart cities," he notes.
Some South African cities have sporadic implementation of smart city technologies, such as smart traffic and security cameras. With these separate initiatives, cities would then have to integrate into systems to work together and build an extensive network to ensure they are truly smart.
Another consideration is that these technologies come from western countries, so we need to ensure they cater to African needs. With complex systems and technology adoption come the need for a highly skilled workforce, which is another aspect of smart cities that should be considered.
Walker points out there is a range of benefits that exist when moving toward smart cities, such as the economic impact, improved public service delivery, and greater access to services and commercial opportunities.
Smart cities can also improve public safety and security. With improved infrastructure management, citizens' quality of life will be enhanced, as will government's visibility and transparency across service platforms, infrastructure systems and city departments, he concludes.
The Public Sector ICT Forum's "Building the smart cities of tomorrow" event will examine how the technology implementation of smart cities can meet the needs of the digital citizen and how government can harness smart city technologies to benefit residents.