Joburg’s smart city vision

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The City of Johannesburg unveiled its vision to be a smart, modern city; the strategy focusses on using information technology to deliver municipal services and improve efficiencies.

The City of Joburg aims to exhibit all the characteristics associated with effective organisational change, technological advancement, economic and social development and other modern city dynamics.

At the 16 -17 July Metropolis 2013’s Board of Directors meeting, under the theme Caring Cities, the City of Joburg has the opportunity to show progress in its journey towards being a smart city in the developing world with a broadband network, an integrated intelligence centre, and the Gauteng Smart/Techno Hub initiative in the pipeline.

City of Joburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau says: “The City of Joburg wants to become smart in all aspects, providing services that are easy to access and use, whilst simultaneously being efficient, responsive in an open and transparent way; and ensuring financial sustainability, an environmental friendly city and delivering quality service.”

Three motives for building a smart city were discussed:

  • Sustainability – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the city’s carbon footprint, reducing water wastage and making clean water available and accessible.
  • Build to last – protecting the natural environment, improving public administration and implementing smart energy.
  • Economic development – making it easy to do business, making the City an attractive investment destination, enhancing competitiveness, building a robust information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, improving information accessibility and making the city marketable.

The Metropolis Association events include One Young World (an international youth summit) in October 2013, and C40 (an international global climate summit) to be held in February 2014. Created in 1985, the association is an international forum for exploring issues and concerns common to all big cities and metropolitan regions.

Positioning the City of Joburg as a smart and caring city is tabled within the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy (Joburg 2040 GDS). This strategy provides the City with a vision of the future, and defines clear outcomes against which to measure progress.

As proud hosts of the Metropolis 2013 meeting, the City will showcase its capabilities and ability to use ICT to merge smart utilities, smart mobility, smart economy, smart environment, smart education, smart people, smart living, smart health, smart planning and smart governance dimensions. The objective is to improve the City of Joburg’s profile as a prime destination for investors, tourists and events, and position it as a world-class African city.

As a smart city, Joburg’s broadband network will be positioned to drive growth and development, and provide solutions to eradicate socio-economic inequalities. The City views this as a strategic focus area for strengthening capacity to build effective and efficient ICTs with excellent management systems, effective policies and streamlined processes for effective decision-making and service delivery.

Intervention strategies to support the City of Joburg becoming a smart city include smart metering electricity and water, and an integrated intelligent centre for public safety. For this the City will deliver quality ICT systems and services to encourage active involvement and engagement from its citizens, and include municipal services provided to households via a broadband infrastructure.

To manifest the vision of Joburg as a smart city, intervention strategies will also focus on using ICT to improve productivity and efficiency, such as reducing the number of physical meetings through teleconferencing, video conferencing and tele-presence facilities.