Cities and regions have the ability to create the right framework conditions for an optimal digital environment by investing first in the required physical infrastructures (e.g. transport infrastructures, corporate offices, social infrastructures, etc.). Institutional infrastructures also have an important role in the digital transformation of traditional industries at city-level.
Developing a business-friendly ecosystem through investments in smart physical infrastructures
The creation of a business-friendly ecosystem is a precondition for the success of any digital transformation strategy. Cities can create the right framework conditions for an optimal business environment by investing in the required infrastructures (e.g. transport infrastructures, corporate offices, social infrastructures, etc.). Physical infrastructures refers to the stock of cost-efficient and intelligent infrastructure such as urban mobility systems, energy, water supply systems, sewerage systems and solid waste management systems which are all integrated through technology. These technological infrastructures constitute tangible assets to attract tech companies and digital talents from all around the world. Moreover, the lack of integrated infrastructures can often lead to significant inefficiencies and risks likely to alter a city’s economy. The largest investments and most successful initiatives at city-level often concern these physical infrastructures.
Espoo’s investment strategy for infrastructure
The Espoo 2020 plan includes new investments of EUR 4-5 billion in the following infrastructures: extension of the metro lines, tunnel construction of a ring road, housing, office and business buildings, public services, university buildings, sports and cultural facilities.
Installing sensors on infrastructures for smart and sustainable cities
Digital cities and regions both in Europe and outside Europe use digital technologies to enhance performance reduce costs, resource consumption and to engage more effectively with their citizens. The deployment of sensors on local infrastructures constitute the key enabler of these optimisations. For instance, smartPORT logistics (SPL) is one of the most innovative digital solutions of the port of Hamburg. The SAP Connected Logistics based solution manages the traffic by interconnecting businesses, partners and customers of the port.
Ensuring the availability of shared development spaces for the digital inclusion of businesses
Strategic partnerships, avoiding vendor lock-in, systematic experimentation and availability of local innovation spaces are the main priorities in order to bring cities together and to create a global smart city market. The digital inclusion of businesses (through online presence and social media use) is not enough to boost the competitiveness of EU manufacturing. A combination of inclusion and innovation (e.g. disruptive business models, digital manufacturing) is needed. For instance, Fab Labs are the makerspace for excellence offering digital (and analog) manufacturing to make a wide range of artefacts/services-processes.
Ensuring internet availability
Ensuring the availability of good broadband and high speed access can favour experimentation and is a key precondition for the digital transformation of local businesses. Over the past decades, European internet providers have been confronted with an exponential increase in the demand for bandwidth which looks set to continue.