Success in the smart city environment with agile networks

Success in the smart city environment with agile networks 27.08.2018 - On the online platform Kommune 21, Dr. Andreas Zamperoni, Principal Project Manager at msg, and Michael Kandel, Senior Manager at m3 management consulting, report about their experiences with Smart City and agile networks. m3 management consulting is a member of the msg group. The article deals with how agile management can be used to establish successful network projects that can make a decisive contribution on the way to the Smart City. The web platform Kommune 21 deals with all topics of interest to the modern community, including of course the concept of the Smart City. Below is a summary of the article.

Smart City: Example projects all over the world
In most cities and communities, hierarchical structures are still established that make it difficult to think beyond the boundaries of resorts and areas. Implementing the Smart City concept here is a real challenge because it requires many structural changes. Agile networks are a good solution for this, which can ensure faster project implementation and shorter planning procedures. German communities do not have to reinvent the wheel. Cities such as Singapore, Barcelona and Dubai have successfully introduced smart city concepts and can serve as model projects. But there are also best practice examples in Germany - for example in Hanover, where an intermodal mobility platform with app for smartphones has been introduced. Users can use these to buy tickets for local public transport from various providers. Smart parking projects are currently being tested in Aachen and Cologne, while Frankfurt and Düsseldorf would like to process passport applications via modern terminals in the future. In Barcelona, a project is currently underway in which interactive garbage bins themselves apply for garbage collection as soon as they are full. However, all these projects still have little serious impact on public administration.

Agile networks versus old hierarchical structures
Smart City means digitization in the public sector. So digitization presents municipalities and cities with about the same challenges as private companies - and a feeling of insecurity is widespread everywhere. Advances in software and hardware are overturning, and while communities are still agreeing on one technology, there is already another that offers further benefits. At the same time, citizens who have integrated smart shopping into their daily lives usually find the services of an administration old-fashioned. There is therefore an acute need for action to meet the demands of companies and private citizens. This calls for agile networks that can react more quickly.

Agile Organization
Unfortunately, the classical organization of a community or city is usually completely contrary to agile forms of organization. The agile principles are based on trust, constant optimization of customer friendliness, close cooperation between departments and the participation of all employees in processes and decisions. Uncomplicated and transparent communication with other structures, companies and the citizen is the ultimate goal. Anyone who uses agile methods must create their own framework conditions. A local authority must ensure that all laws and regulations are observed. A driving licence can only be issued if all conditions (driving test, age of the applicant, eyesight test, etc.) are met. Nevertheless, the municipality can become more flexible in its application and exhibition procedure, for example, with regard to filling in and submitting forms or opening hours. Introducing new agile structures is a challenge that requires the cooperation of all employees. The further training of employees in the field of information technology and the use of modern technologies is indispensable for this.

Building an agile network
At the beginning of the process of introducing agile structures, the existing structure must be analyzed. How do the processes work? How are the employees organized? How do decisions come about? An important element of agile structures is the shift of responsibility downwards. The top management level must therefore be prepared to delegate responsibility in this process of introducing agile structures. Much of the responsibility must ultimately lie at the level of the networks. Finally, teams are formed for individual projects so that employees from different resorts and areas can work together on specific projects. The solutions should always focus on the customer (in this case the citizen and the companies in the community) and always serve to simplify, shorten and optimize procedures. The evaluation by the customer should also play a role. For example, Scrum or lean management techniques can be used as methods. Of course, IT employees are represented in every work team, because they should implement the solutions that are developed together technically and thus make them a reality.

On the way to the Smart City
They already exist: first approaches to turn German cities and communities into smart cities and to integrate agile methods on the way to citizen friendliness. In many cases, positive experiences have already been made with agile methods. While young IT specialists have often internalized the principle of agile management, there is still a lack of willingness to change in many management positions. Uncertainty and concern about data protection often play an important role. But agile management is certainly an instrument that has a future and will pave the way to a smart city.

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