Casablanca, Morocco, and Kansas City, Mo., have been selected as IEEE Core Smart Cities from the 15 cities that applied. The core category means the cities are able to build on existing plans to develop a smart city, have the funding to carry out those plans, are willing to share their knowledge and experience, and can form multidisciplinary working groups. The two join Guadalajara, Mexico; Trento, Italy; and Wuxi, China. The five cities are part of IEEE’s Smart Cities Initiative, a global, multidisciplinary effort to help municipalities apply information technology to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
“Casablanca and Kansas City join a select group of the world’s municipalities that are evolving to meet increased urban population growth,” said Gilles Betis, chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative, in a news release. “They are doing so through the intelligent use of multi-disciplinary technologies to support city systems in a sustainable and responsible way that offers citizens a high quality of life.”
The cities must also engage local universities to work on their smart-city projects and local IEEE chapters or sections must be willing to help supervise the activities. IEEE in turn will support the cities in producing white papers, developing massive open online courses (MOOCs) describing, for example, the elements for developing a smart city as the city sees it, and organizing an international smart cities conference every two years.
Representatives from all five cities attended an integration workshop held at the first IEEE International Smart Cities Conference, which took place from 25 to 28 October in Guadalajara.
The largest city in Morocco, Casablanca has 3.3 million citizens. The city is the country’s chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the African continent. Casablanca launched its smart-city initiative, e-Madina Smart City Cluster, in 2013. A partnership of private companies, public institutions, and citizens, its mission is to create and develop a smart-city ecosystem using digital technologies and other resources. E-Madina and its partners have developed several projects including Mazagan, a sustainable urban center built on 1,300 hectares that houses a business incubator, cultural facilities, and an academic and training center. Another is the Casashore business park, which covers 53 hectares and is home to 80 companies. It is the largest such park in Africa.
“The social concept of smart city that we have adopted in Casablanca puts the citizen at the center of the transformation process, creating a public-private-citizen partnerships where people are actors and builders of their intelligent city,” said Aawatif Hayar, vice president of e-Madina, in the news release. “This participatory approach will transform societal and economic challenges into business opportunities.”
With 2.3 million people, Kansas City is Missouri’s largest city. In June, the city launched its KC Digital Roadmap, a plan that is focused on five areas: digital inclusion, open government, citizen engagement, industry, and smart city. It calls for such activities as developing a city-wide digital inclusion policy, increasing public access to free Wi-Fi, making government data accessible to all residents, supporting technology startups, and leveraging data and analytics to drive the city’s performance. The city is also working with Cisco Systems to develop a comprehensive network called Smart+Connected Communities, which will provide real-time information to city managers about services. Kansas City has also adopted several technologies that will enable more efficient management of its infrastructure including traffic signals and storm water management.
“Joining this elite group of technologically driven cities is both a recognition of our achievements to date, and a signal of greater things to come,” said Mayor Sly James in a new release issued by his office. “Kansas City is well-positioned for explosive growth, and being an IEEE Core Smart City will impact our economy, our city government, our schools, and all of our citizens." He added that the city is working to align the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative requirements with the KC Digital Roadmap.
Casablanca and Kansas City will be kicking off their IEEE Smart City activities in the coming months. These activities include organizing conferences and events, and contributing to the development of the IEEE Smart Cities collaborative network. In the meantime, the cities will work with their local IEEE chapters to develop expert knowledge, share experience with other core and affiliated cities, and support local innovation and entrepreneurs.