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Don’t Be Guided by Technology Vendors: Smart Cities First Need a Vision and a Plan Don’t Be Guided by Technology Vendors: Smart Cities First Need a Vision and a Plan

Don’t Be Guided by Technology Vendors: Smart Cities First Need a Vision and a Plan

Most cities do not have the luxury of a team of innovation planners. The city manager and IT director are often responsible for creating the vision, yet few leaders have the time to devote to strategic planning and Smart City technology research. Vendors intend to be helpful by providing technology solutions for time-crunched leaders. But, do these solutions fit the local government’s master plan? And how does the fiber or wireless infrastructure required for the vendor’s solution support multiple departments’ master plan initiatives?
“A clear vision is the only effective counterweight to the technology push of vendors. Cities that lack such a vision are likely to become a living laboratory for vendor solutions with piecemeal successes.” [1]

Cities can be driven by vendor initiatives, or they can harness the changing technological winds to expedite their own vision and goals into a Smart City plan. Smart City planning is critical, because it attracts unforeseen, positive change; transforms older city assets into monetized strongholds; and can maximize investment returns with future-proof solutions.

Attract Positive Change
Smart City planning begins with city and regional planners visualizing the ideal infrastructure and technology needed to support their vision and goals. Smart City planning creates confidence; an optimistic outlook for the future; and often attracts positive, unforeseen change. Projects that seemed clearly out of reach one year ago suddenly become a strong possibility due unrelated projects taking place in or near the city. Smart City planning helps officials be on the lookout for opportunities that could have a positive effect on the overall plan.

Transform and Connect Older Assets with New Ones
A critical step in Smart City planning involves taking stock of the local and regional assets already available for use, modification, expansion, or replacement. Existing assets that were not valuable in yesterday’s economy can be a huge advantage in today's Smart City planning. Cities, counties, townships, and other collaborative partners, like school districts, can bring significant value to a Smart City design, plan, and ultimate project implementation. Leveraging existing, even old, assets and resources will allow cities to create solutions specifically fit for them.

Future-Proof IoT Solutions with Smart City Planning Maximizes Investment Dollars
The Sunshine Coast Council Report, Smart City Framework - An Introduction to the Sunshine Coast Smart City Framework”[2] states that Smart City planning allows cities and regions to pursue future-proofed solutions to create the most value-per-dollar invested. Planning allows the dollars spent on any aspect of Smart City development to support, as much as possible, other Smart City initiatives. For example, the fiber and wireless infrastructures required to support most Smart City projects and devices should never be stand-alone systems. When any fiber and wireless infrastructure construction is considered, city and regional planners must ensure the infrastructure will also support and easily adapt and interface with any additional Smart City technologies implemented in the future.

Properly planned Smart Cities can be positively affected by some or all of the technologies listed below:
  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Safety
  • Smart Energy and Water
  • Smart Buildings and Living
  • Smart Health
  • Smart Education
  • Smart Finance
  • Smart Tourism & Leisure
  • Smart Retail and Logistics
  • Smart Manufacturing and Construction
  • Smart Government
  • IoT and Fiber to the Home (FTTH)
  • Connected Education, Research Networks, and Institutions
  • Smart Connectivity between students and employers
  • Small Cell Deployments
  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Transportation, Autonomous Vehicles, Traffic
  • Smart Signage
  • Smart Right of Way (small cell management/coop locations)
Start with a vision and a plan, and then bring in the vendors.

Ice Miller Whiteboard (Whiteboard) has been involved with local government and technology infrastructure development for over 20 years. In that period of time, Whiteboard has advised city, township, county, and state governments in their efforts to prepare for the future through building and expanding public fiber networks.

Public fiber infrastructure construction is one of the few necessities for economic growth that regional political sub-divisions can agree to collaborate on.

As an independent contractor, Jeff Gamrath supports Ice Miller Whiteboard's broadband and telecommunications practice. He brings nearly 25 years of experience as a strategic leader, sales director and team manager within the wireless and fiber telecommunications industry. Jeff assists commercial businesses and government organizations in establishing control of their data and telecommunication services. He introduces clients to emerging broadband, data center and network integrators that combine to allow more customized solutions than the standard, off-the-shelf options offered by individual carriers. Jeff also advises municipal clients on how to best utilize their broadband infrastructures to allow high quality broadband, fiber and Ethernet, Smart City services to be supplied to a community’s commercial businesses, schools and public buildings.  

For more information, please contact Jeff Gamrath at 614-462-1132 or Ice Miller partner Greg Dunn at 614-462-2339, or visit
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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