Description (short summary):
They are at it everywhere. At work, at home, on the train, even in the aisles of supermarkets, there are people staring at those tiny screens, swiping and flicking their way through emails, playing games and downloading the latest app.
The smartphone brings convenience, connectivity and instant communication to every citizen. And now is the perfect time for cities across Europe to get smart too. This does not mean that every municipality should spend their precious funds developing smartphone apps. Cities need to be much, much smarter. Smart, means a new way of ‘thinking and doing’ that puts citizens, visitors and businesses – the ‘customers’ of a municipality – first. Cities must be dedicated to meeting their demands and needs, and continuously improving the services they deliver.
The smartest cities and towns in Europe are discovering how to use technology and redesign internal operational procedures to deliver more efficient and effective services to their customers. Some municipalities may have to reengineer their business processes, some may choose to centralise their customer service activities. Sometimes they may have to think more strategically about the channels they use for customer interactions. Perhaps the city needs a strict structure, or architecture, for its information and communication systems. Perhaps they may decide to collect, combine and analyse data about their customers to reveal new insights into their needs and behaviours.
Whatever changes a municipality must make, customer-centricity – the true essence of ‘smart’ – comes down to people. Technology is a means to an end, but a clever new eService will all but fail if people do not like it or will use it. Municipal employees, whether they are inconspicuous administrators or face citizens every day in a neighbourhood office, must understand that their work must always focus on serving customers. Customers, meanwhile, must be ready to engage with their city authorities and work in partnership to make ever eService deliver on its promises.
Customers are certainly at the heart of today’s smart city. In some places there may even be an app to prove it.
Number of pages: 32