KnowNow Cities for Local Authorities, 3rd & Public Sector

KnowNowCities LogoKnowNow Cities can provide for the third sector, local authorities (planning teams especially), an independent advisory service on how to develop, evolve and nurture ‘smart cities’.

  • The term smart city refers generically to any place (of any varying size or scale) that seeks to apply technology to how it operates.

The backstop for any smart city is adherence to standards.  An important early phase is to clarify which standards are applicable to the principles that place has defined.  A starting point for KnowNow Cities is the BSI Smart City Standards. Reinforced by our membership of the  City Standards Institute.

KnowNow Cities consistently strives to deliver smart places that meet the spirit of the five key Smart City Ingredients that KnowNow Cities has identified that are core to a smart place.  Be that a building, a campus, a district or even a whole city.

What can you expect

KnowNow Cities can help local authority stakeholders identify firstly what does being ‘smart’ really mean.  How does this being ‘smart’ then equate to the vision of how that place will be lived and worked in?  What does this then look like in terms of technology and digital stuff?  How will this impact those living there?

Using a ToGAF centric approach, KnowNow Cities prepares a report that answers key questions such as:  What are the outcomes that we seek to achieve?  How does technology play a role in delivering those outcomes?  What technology things will then be required and by when?  Who will have access to the technology and the data it generates?  What can they then do with this information?  What is the citizen impact positive and negative?  What socio-economic impacts can be expected?  What other considerations are required and who else needs to be involved?

In short KnowNow Cities deciphers the “smart city vision” for a place and turns this into firstly a credible roadmap and then a set of action plans.  Defining how this new technology will then be managed, who will own the information and what can everyone expect in return.  The end game is that a viable, sustainable, secure and resilient set of information technology components can then be deployed in this new smart place.

Where do you start?

The first step on the smart city journey is to capture and understand your vision for how that place should operate once the new development is complete.   Who are the key stakeholders?  What are the outcomes?

A KnowNow workshop would look at subject areas such as:  Where is the investment coming from for this idea/innovation (e.g. private v public v 3rd sector), what are the success factors  (ROI, happiness, longer living, lower costs) and what are the outcome measurements that need to be captured and where do they come from (e.g. good air quality from sensors). A good guide can be found here:  Smart Cities Overview from the BSI.  Key is to think: OUTCOMES.

Principles are Important

An important part of any smart city technology engagement is to understand the ‘principles’ of a place.   The principles and standards of a smart city project establish the governance mechanism for future architectural review and change management.  The local authority has a key role here as a multi-generational guardian and often the bridge between neighbours and conflicting interests.

The local authority along with the developer need to shape these principles and be part of the team that will scrutinise the technology plans.  Once these principles are agreed, alongside the previously determined building blocks the beginnings of an enterprise architecture for that place can now be formed.

Note:  What is important is that technology aids urban design it should not lead urban design. The role of the local authority is to: represent citizens, apply regulations and facilitate a good use of technology and ensure a sustainable management legacy for that technology is enabled.  

Building Blocks

This phase also identifies and prioritises the various technology building blocks that will be required.  This is at a very high level.  Identifying where common requirements exist, where requirements clash and where stakeholder agreements are common and where stress or tension needs to be resolved.   This could be for example in requiring access to certain types of data.

KnowNow Cities use Enterprise Architecture techniques and methods for our smart cities  projects.   Delivering a TOGAF centric approach that captures what digital/technical components are required at what time and in which place.

This phase is iterative and will typically take between 2 to 12 weeks to complete depending on the maturity of the information already available and the quality of stakeholder engagement.

What to do with your Vision?

Once your smart place vision is better scoped, the next phase is to schedule the projects that will deliver this vision.  Which are first, which are next and which ones are to be put on the future to do list.   KnowNow Cities has the capability to help local authorities to roadmap and schedule the work to be done, planned, procured, delegated and tracked.

KnowNow Cities can also help the local authority with its new smart city responsibilities.  These too will  need to be scheduled into a plan.  For example one new area could be in curating new open data created by the new smart air quality sensors that then leads to changes in policy.

A number of different perspectives and views are often required.   These could be roadmaps and Kanbans, which  are used to schedule and track smart city roadmap progress.


The roadmap will help identify what types and when certain foundation technology infrastructure components (e.g. networks) should be deployed and by when.  Plus because they will have been baselined it will give citizens confidence that the technology chosen will meet their needs and the local authorities vision.

This relates to a key KnowNow Cities principle which is to:

“Design for Tomorrow but Deliver for Today”

Not all places are born smart..

Smart Places are not always new builds.  Most smart city developments will be a retrofit.  A benefit of the KnowNow Cities approach is that the same techniques can create a survey of the existing technology infrastructure in a place as one of the 1st deliverables.  Then by understanding the new services and technology infrastructure to be deployed it is possible to create a change impact assessment that a new smart place will have on the existing technology infrastructure.    This can help de-risk projects, secure planning permission or highlight where further investment is required thus guaranteeing the your vision can be met.

An impact assessment and survey is a 5 day to multi-week engagement depending on the size of the place being surveyed and the requirements being assessed.

How do I work with KnowNow Cities

KnowNow Cities welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with public and third sector organisations interested in starting or nurturing a smart city/place/district/building.   This is for both new build smart city projects or retrofit projects that will onboard new smart city components.

KnowNow Cities has a flexible engagement approach.  We offer competitive rates and are liability insured.

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