Smart cities put citizens first

Cyril Baloyi, group CTO of the City of Johannesburg.

Cyril Baloyi, group CTO of the City of Johannesburg.

How can we transform our cities to serve citizens more effectively and grow economically during the age of digitisation? The answer to this question seems to be through smart cities.

According to Cyril Baloyi, group chief technology officer of the City of Johannesburg, some of the key challenges South Africa has around developing smart cities include citizen engagement, safety, security and sustainability. “We don’t have a clear structure or method to adopt these new technologies.”

Many times we need to import the technologies used and mirror what other countries have done with their smart cities, which means customisation and multi-vendor integration can be challenging. However, besides all these challenges that South African cities need to overcome, there is still hope.

Baloyi says smart cities can have a huge impact on citizens and will enhance service delivery. “Automation can benefit small business and informal traders, which will reduce intolerance within the city centre trading spaces and industry. There will also be the benefit of integrated safety and security systems, crime detection, surveillance and video analytics.”

The current smart city initiatives the City of Johannesburg is tackling include integrated transport systems, last-mile connectivity such as fibre and WiFi, and automated and integrated police enforcement management systems.

Being aware of the challenges is a good way to start your smart city journey, and while the City of Johannesburg is well aware of these issues, these challenges are not preventing the city from enhancing the lives of its citizens, says Baloyi.

Baloyi will present at the Public Sector ICT Forum: “Building the smart cities of tomorrow” event, taking place on 10 April at the Protea Hotel, Fire and Ice, in Pretoria, Menlyn.

His topic will cover “The impact of digitisation on citizen-centricity”, and he will touch on issues like integrated transport, safety and security, e-procurement and electronic bills.

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