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How to find the right smart city partners May 24, 2019 | Patti Zullo, Sr. Director, Smart City Solutions, Spectrum

“Collaboration is the new competitive advantage.” This was a common theme in a discussion I joined at a recent smart cities event.

Our partner, US Ignite, had brought together city leaders, private sector executives and more to discuss how to activate smart regional communities and gain buy-in.

Why? Local and regional governments—and neighboring city governments—all face similar challenges: rising costs, funding constraints, and aging infrastructure, just to name a few. But, when those entities come together, they discover power in collaboration.

Why partnerships make smart cities possible

Collaboration is necessary to launch smart city projects and create a connected community that fosters innovation, accelerates economic growth and so much more. To see those results, neighboring governments need to come together, and, by doing so, expand their pool of potential partners. With more government agencies, private companies, and not-for-profit organizations working together to implement smart city initiatives they will have a much higher chance of success.

Regional collaboration with neighboring cities also provides an opportunity to share best practices and pursue economic development opportunities together. Additionally, since a significant portion of city assets share a physical connection with assets owned or controlled by neighboring agencies, a collaborative approach that includes data and knowledge sharing will facilitate needed permissions and approvals.

So, the question is: “How do I find the right partnership for my city?”

What’s the right partner?

Here’s a three-step process to get you started on your search for the perfect partner.

  1. Start with the end in mind – You can’t start a project if you don’t know where you’re going. The first step to finding a perfect partner is getting clarity around the ultimate objectives you’re trying to achieve. From there, you can determine which partners are best suited to help you meet your objectives.
  2. Take inventory – To avoid duplicating efforts, take inventory of infrastructure and solutions you have at your disposal. Once you’ve established what you have, then you can identify the gaps and figure out where you need help—from other agencies or the private sector.
  3. Establish your strategy – Clearly detail your goals for the project and your priority needs and interests that you’ve just outlined in the two previous steps. This ensures the proposals you receive from potential partners align. Be sure to also articulate the value of the project to private partners—whether it’s direct returns on investment, or indirect benefits like greater economic development.

To learn about a successful smart city partnership we recently announced with the City of St. Petersburg, Florida and US Ignite, a non-profit organization, click here.

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