Mar 06 2019

New Mayoral Group Aims to Boost Smart City Project Success Rate

Ignite Cities wants to spark collaboration and help city leaders overcome hurdles to technology projects.

It’s one thing to propose smart city projects like intelligent streetlights, smart parking spaces and sensors that move traffic more efficiently. It’s another thing entirely to see those plans through to fruition. 

A recently launched, Chicago-based mayoral consultancy called Ignite Cities wants to help boost cities’ success rates in developing and launching smart city programs. The group’s Connected City Consulting Practice has engaged mayors to “realign” smart city solutions that scale within and across cities.

The organization’s CEO, George Burciaga, previously served as an Illinois state commissioner for science and technology and was an executive at Civiq Smartscapes, the firm behind the Wi-Fi kiosks found in New York City and other cities. The idea behind the consultancy is to help mayors align the interests of competing stakeholders for municipal tech projects. 

Smart city leaders have said for smart city projects to be successful, city leaders and IT managers must rethink how they fund such projects and collaborate with the private sector and other stakeholders. 

A study released by Cisco Systems at its Internet of Things World Forum 2017 revealed that 60 percent of IoT initiatives stall at the proof of concept stage. 

How to Improve Smart City Projects

By bringing mayors together and identifying common challenges with technology projects, Burciaga said, the practice is able to develop a framework that he hopes will yield a higher success rate for future smart city projects, be there focused on data analytics, environmental Internet of Things sensors or traffic management.

“Mayors are moving at a much faster rate than I’ve ever seen on this,” Burgacia told StateScoop. “And we want to support the alignment with how fast they’re moving.”

That means helping civic leaders reconfigure their city government structures to avoid failures in smart city projects

The group is currently working with several mayors across the country, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Columbia, S.C., Mayor Stephen Benjamin; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The group claims that its framework and methodology help mayors lay groundwork to not only scale but also replicate and develop profitability for cities. 

MORE-FROM-STATETECH: Find out how intelligent transportation systems save cities money.

“Ignite is in a unique and strategic space, as they target those who are at the center of the equation to ensure results,” Benjamin, who is also president of the United States Conference of Mayors, says in a statement. “In order to align purpose across departments and a methodology that will succeed, I am excited to support Ignite in anticipation of how they’ll be able to help and guide cities.” 

The group says it is focused on “building scalable solutions and partnerships with mayors and leading technology firms, in order to resolve priority mayoral issues, such as homelessness, tomorrow’s workforce, education, safety, plus mobility and infrastructure. The collaboration across cities is required, with partnerships that challenge everything.”

A key goal is to get mayors to talk with and learn from each other as well as from subject matter experts, according to Burgacia, which can accelerate the time it takes to move from an initial idea to a practical deployment. 

“We’re dissecting the conversation at the mayor’s level so we can understand what can be applied that will scale and will replicate,” he told StateScoop. “We want to develop nonbiased ideas and solutions that can support a change in the current root cause, not the symptom.”

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