It is widely recognized that cities must embrace collaborations with the private sector in order to finance and implement smart city solutions. The so-called public-private partnership (3P) has been applied for decades in cities, and in regional and national governments.
Many cities have been embracing the open innovation concept to engage citizens in crowdsourcing new ideas and solutions to city challenges. The idea of cities serving as living labs to foster innovation and test it at the city level has emerged in the past decade. The European Network of Living Labs (ENOLL) has more than 300 members from cities in Europe and around the globe. ENOLL has been a big supporter of the idea of 4P -- public-private-people partnerships -- as a model of direct citizen involvement in local innovation systems, through ideas like participatory budgeting, hackathons, and open app competitions.
Yet I believe we are starting to see the emergence of an even more robust and interesting collaboration model, which I refer to as the 5P model: Public-private-people-professor partnerships. This new "p" explicitly recognizes the importance of engaging local universities in these emergent open innovation ecosystems in smart cities.
Given that I am a professor in a university, I am certainly biased when it comes to appreciating the potential contribution of the university community. Yet peer-reviewed academic research has long demonstrated the role of universities in contributing to local entrepreneurial ecosystems through the creation of new knowledge and patents, the support for nascent entrepreneurs in classes and university incubators and accelerators, and the education of a new set of young graduates to join startups and innovating companies.
I have identified a set of key smart cities that are actively embracing the 5P concept in the development of living lab models. These include: Boston, Barcelona, London, and Amsterdam. I will summarize some of these emerging projects below.
Boston of course has a world-class university system, boasting more than 70 universities in the metropolitan area. MIT is probably the most important university in the world seeking to develop smart-city solutions. The MIT SENSEable City Lab, directed by Carlo Rotti, is developing applied research related to the use of big data and sensors in cities to facilitate real-time learning and adaptation in cities. It was also the developer of the innovative Copenhagen Wheel as a cycling technology to facilitate the capture of real-time congestion and air-quality data, among other things, via the cyclists of a city while also providing an electric hybrid boost.
Boston is also home to the New Urban Mechanics office, which facilitates solving city challenges through innovation among citizens, the private sector, and the city. Finally, with the support of the prior mayor, Boston embraced the creation of an Innovation District, which has encouraged the addition of hundreds of new startups in the city. It is also the home of the Mass Challenge, the world's largest startup accelerator.
Barcelona has emerged as one of the global leaders in the smart cities movement with its hosting of the annual Smart City Expo and Mobile World Congress. It has a true commitment, from the mayor down through citizens, and is opting for the use of bike sharing and public transit.
Barcelona has several top-rated universities, including ESADE and IESE, which are actively contributing to the local innovation ecosystem with courses, centers, and research. The city has also partnered with a university, La Salle, to introduce a master's program in smart cities. Barcelona was actually one of the first cities in the world to embrace the concept of an innovation district formally. It's called 22@, and it houses more than 4,500 companies. It has supported the creation of 56,000 new workers in the city (more than 50% are university-educated). The 22@ district has also served as the inspiration for Boston's Innovation District, and for a similar emerging district in Buenos Aires.
London is a cosmopolitan city with a reputation as the financial capital of Europe. It has embraced the sustainability and smart-cities agenda, and is using 5P models to support local innovation. LSE Cities is one of the most important urban research centers in the world. The city is also home to the Intel Collaborative Institute for Sustainable, Collaborative Cities (ICRI). The ICRI is in itself a collaboration between the University College London, Imperial College London, and Intel. The focus is on "investigating, developing and deploying adaptive technologies that can optimize resource efficiency, and enable new services that support and enhance the quality of life of urban inhabitants and city visitors."
(Source: Matt Buck)
London is also home to The Crystal, which is "a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens exploring the future of cities," and "home to the world's largest exhibition focused on urban sustainability and a world-class center for dialogue, discovery and learning." The Crystal is housed in one of the world's greenest buildings.
Amsterdam belongs in this conversation about cities embracing 5P models. In fact, it is a recent development in Amsterdam that started my thinking about 5P models. It is already considered one of the smartest cities in the world. I had the pleasure of revisiting Amsterdam last year as a keynote speaker at the annual Smart City Event, and was quite impressed with the city's commitment to becoming a smarter, greener city.
One of the most important collaborations in this area is called Amsterdam Smart City, which is "a unique partnership between businesses, authorities, research institutions and the people of Amsterdam." Amsterdam Smart City has supported the creation of dozens of innovation collaborations focused on making the city smarter, but the really inspiring project is one that has yet to be launched. It is tentatively called the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS).
This ambitious project has 50 million euros in support from the City of Amsterdam. It involves a collaboration among two Dutch universities (TU Delft and Wageningen UR), MIT, and independent research group TNO. Also in the collaboration are the City of Boston and several local and international corporations, including Accenture, IBM, Cisco, KPN (the Netherlands' leading telco), Shell, and Waternet (Amsteram's main water supplier).
AMS will officially launch on June 20 this year. This is a 5P project of significant importance. If successful, it will likely be the world's best living example of a 5P model in action. The AMS Institute:
AMS aims to become an internationally leading institute where talent is educated and engineers, designers, digital engineers and natural/social scientist jointly develop and valorise interdisciplinary metropolitan solutions. AMS is centred on applied technology in urban themes such as water, energy, waste, food, data and mobility, and the integration of these themes. AMS will develop a deep understanding of the city -- sense the city -- design solutions for its challenges, and integrate these into the city. In that, Amsterdam is its home base and test bed.
As you can see, leading cities around the globe are beginning to express open innovation by directly supporting the innovative potential of 5P collaborations involving the public (local government), private (startups and multinationals), people (citizen engagement), and professor (local and international university involvement) sectors. While the complexities of such collaboration can be messy, our cities, and our citizens should demand nothing less.