Boyd Cohen, Ph.D., LEED AP, is an urban strategist focused on researching, teaching and outreach in the areas of urban innovation, entrepreneurship and smart cities. Boyd developed the ‘Smart Cities Wheel’ as a framework for developing and implementing smart city strategies and for benchmarking cities around the globe. It has been translated into Spanish, Swedish, Hebrew and Dutch among other languages. Some people want to define smart cities as cities that use technology to become more efficient, but he believes in a more holistic vision. According to him, a city is not a smart city if it is not also on a green path and trying to be more sustainable – and that’s through technology and non-technology. Everything from more progressive green building strategies to developing renewable energy and increasing the use of energy monitoring systems fit very clearly within the scope of a ‘smart city.’
The smart city movement is similar to the sustainability movement in that no company is truly sustainable, and no city is truly smart. Rather, “cities and companies are on a journey toward being smarter and more sustainable,” opines Boyd. He further asserts that it is about time to begin and establish some minimally acceptable standards for a city to claim they are on the smart journey. To be clear, while smart grids and sensor technologies are components of a smart city strategy, their use does not mean a city is smart already. His work in this arena over the past few years has led him to believe that every city needs to move beyond one-off ICT projects and help develop holistic strategies in collaboration with their citizens to call themselves smart. He has developed a framework and approach to benchmark smart cities and their initiates on different planes. One of his efforts in the area include the development of the tool called the “Smart Cities Wheel”. It is designed to resemble a bicycle wheel and contains six key components and three drivers for each component. The components include: Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Governance, Smart Living, Smart Mobility and Smart People. In each of those areas, there exists an addressal to technology and the absence of it. The combination these two approaches are then implemented to work out the best, most appropriate solutions for every city. A smart city isn’t just about using more technology, but it’s also just about being smarter and more innovative about its business - whether this means better participation of citizens in co-creating solutions or the emergence of procurement for innovation. That is where cities change their procurement process to make it less bureaucratic and focus more on securing innovative solutions for their challenges rather than using basic off-the-shelf solutions.
His tool has the potential to support the development of holistic smart city strategies, developing baselines, and tracking and transparently reporting progress. Every city has the potential to improve and become smarter; it is about choosing the right opportunities specific to the intrinsic nature of that particular city.