So, what does “Smart” really mean?

Well, here we go. My first venture into the world of blogging. (Do most blogs start like this?)

I was asked to cover Smarter Cities as an “Industry Segment” in IBM back in January, and when I’ve been able to snatch a few minutes or hours here and there I’ve been trying to get a handle on what Smarter Cities is as an agenda, and what a Smarter City might look like.

So far I’ve come to the conclusion that although “smart” is a goal to aim for, there will always be something else that can be done “smarter”, and that’s because technology should always get better and be more capable. So, getting smarter with what technology affords us today won’t be as smart as what we will be able to do next year.

Initially I though being smart just meant using resources in a more efficient, more sustainable way, whatever those resources are: people, money, man made materials, and so on. But now I think that’s the outcome of being smart. Being smart, to me, is more about the ways in which we determine how to use resources in a more efficient, more sustainable way.

So, where in the past we may have used spreadsheets with rows and rows, and columns and columns, of data to try to work out the status of a situation, we represent that data in a far more effective way using tools such as dashboarding and 3D visualisations on maps which bring that data to life. And, we don’t just analyse what’s happened: we can predict what will too. But a Smarter City is so much more than that.

So, having though about what “smart” means, I’ll add the “City” next time around. (Already as I type this I can see future posts discussing topics such as what do we use the data for, how do we capture that data, what else should we capture, is it just about data?)

Should you have a desire to read more, and the official messages from IBM you can take a look at

Don’t forget, these opinions are my own.


One thought on “So, what does “Smart” really mean?

  1. Sharon, welcome to the blogosphere.

    I think you hit on something very important in that you have identified some elements that are outcomes.

    What comes before the Outcome is what is “at Source”, so you are digging into the questions of what does “Smart” mean in the context of “Smarter Cities” – at Source.

    To give an example of “at Source”, just yesterday Shirlaws Cayman were working with a client on establishing their Core Values. Someone offered up “Efficient”. As Coaches, we are there to help clients find their own answers, but we kicked that one back to them : “would you say being Efficient is an Outcome or a Source activity ?”. “Ah.. yup.. an Outcome” was the answer.

    Considering Source vs Outcome is a simple yet effective tool for alignment and clarity.

    As technology changes, as needs changes, what “Smart” means “at Source ” can remain little changed… but what exactly is that ? I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts in this area.

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