September issue: An ecosystem is essential for the establishment of smart cities

A few years ago, the MIT scientist Otto Scharmer coined the expression or rather the demand“from ego-system to eco-system”. He was referring primarily to macroeconomic aspects and postulated that in order to master today’s major challenges (climate change, poverty, financial crisis, etc.), a change in thinking was necessary: away from a focus on one’s own advantage and towards a holistic way of thinking. This demand can also be applied to the smart city context. In an earlier article, we had already postulated the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, albeit without using this term. On the one hand, this applies within the city itself, where not only the individual departments should network and seek cooperation, but where the participation of companies, social institutions and residents is also practised. Kerry O’Connor, Chief Innovation Officer of the city of Austin in Texas, illustrated this very well in a recent lecture in Bern entitled Smart City: From Ego-System to Eco-System. But this also applies to networking and the exchange of experience between cities. Laurent Horvath, Smart City Manager of Carouge, also uses the terms “ego-system” and “eco-system” in his description of the 5 stages that a city typically goes through in its Smart City development process. From his point of view – and I can only agree with this – it only becomes really interesting when a city has internalised the ecosystem approach. There are a number of organisations and forums around the world today where cities can exchange ideas. In Europe, but also beyond, this is especially the Open and Agile Smart Cities Initiative(OASC). From Switzerland, the cities of Carouge and Geneva are also active there. However, OASC offers more than just an exchange of experience; it also promotes the dissemination of standards in order to achieve more interoperability and vendor independence. To this end, it has also defined so-called“Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms” (MIM) on three levels: APIs, (semantic) data models and marketplace integration. In Switzerland, the exchange of experience between cities mainly takes place via the informal IG Smart City, which was set up by the Federal Office of Energy, and via the Smart City Hub Switzerland association, which was founded in 2018 and to which the larger cities in German-speaking Switzerland in particular have joined. In this issue, you will find two articles on two new activities in the start-up phase that further expand the Swiss smart city ecosystem. In the first article, Dominik Grögler describes the new specialist series “Smart City Lenzburg”. In this specialist series, concrete problems in the areas of payment systems, mobility, energy & environment and data are tackled and discussed at an annual specialist conference. The first conference in this series will take place in Lenzburg in May 2020, and then in other cities in subsequent years. In the second article, Enrico Baumann, CEO of Elektron AG, talks about the Smart City Alliance. As a counterpart to the Smart City Hub, this alliance is intended in particular to promote the networking of technology and solution providers and contribute to the establishment of a Smart City marketplace. I wish you an interesting read.

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AUTHOR: Stephan Haller

Stephan Haller is a professor at the Institute Public Sector Transformation at BFH Wirtschaft and at the BFH Center Digital Society. He teaches about project management, IT sourcing and e-government and conducts research in the areas of Smart City, Open Data and Internet of Things.

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