This also means we can begin to see more clearly the obstacles and challenges involved. The most difficult issue to resolve in building smart cities is the funding. And this is not unique, all sectors and industries that are facing transformation are dealing with the same problem. The transformation process will not be possible unless investments are made in the ICT platform.

The most important element of a smart city is direct engagement with citizens, businesses and others. Not only is their support essential, through their enthusiasm and demand for services (and their votes) they can assist in building business models that can lead to investment.

Councils will have to take a leadership role in developing smart cities in order to keep pace with the technological developments that their citizens are embracing and the expectations they have in relation to the economic, social and lifestyle aspects of their city. Increasingly less leadership can be expected from other levels of government, yet at the same time it is the councils that are suffering from the burden of issues such as economic transformation, the need for job growth, sustainability and liveability, city infrastructure and the lifestyle of their citizens.

Overall the process towards smart communities already underway through global interconnection - facilitated by technologies such as the internet, broadband, smartphones and mobility. The latest developments are in M2M (machine-to-machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) sphere where we link machines and different data sets together and use so-called ‘big data’ technologies and analysis to better manage the various aspects of our society. This will lead to interaction and even integration between these two developments – merging humans and machines, something that is becoming increasingly possible and leading to the broader concept of artificial intelligence (AI).

For more information see - Global Smart Infrastructure - The Direction is Smart Cities and AI