MyCiti Capetown

I just read that Cape Town has been named Africa’s smartest city by a new report sponsored by Nokia. This comes as no surprise as Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa has been in the news for its innovations in making use of technology to improve the lives of its inhabitants.

Early this year, in June, the city of Cape Town introduced free wifi in the MyCiti public bus, and only last month, they announced plans to roll out a fleet of electric buses in 2017. Some other principal smart city activities include CCTV, with 560 cameras located throughout the city, open data portal launched in 2015, and several pilots of a smart grid system underway.

The Smart City Playbook report was done by Machina Research, a specialist Internet of Things (IoT) analyst house and sponsored by Nokia. The report profiled 22 cities in total. Naturally, Machina Research chose to focus on those aspects of smart cities that are most closely aligned to the IoT.

Other cities profiled in the report are; Auckland, Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Bristol, Cape Town, Cleveland, Delhi, Dubai, Jeddah, Mexico City, New York City, Paris, Pune, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Vienna, and Wuxi

The report focused on how these cities employed technology and the IoT to better the life of their citizens. Cape Town was applauded for having employed some strategies to ensure the proliferation of smart technology in the city. Some of these strategies include:

  • Digital Infrastructure – Improving its broadband infrastructure to reduce the digital divide.
  • Digital Inclusion – Increasing access to services over the Internet to promote inclusion, including through providing training basic computer skills.
  • Digital Government – Rolling out e-Government services to improve transparency, deliver services more efficiently and promote citizen engagement.
  • Digital Economy – Supporting the digital economy

The study also noted that Cape Town did not perform highly on the IoT sphere, but also acknowledged the efforts made by the city to improve computer literacy. According to the report, “Many of its ‘smart city’ initiatives lack an IoT component – though they are no less important for that. For example, part of its ‘Digital Inclusion’ pillar is around providing training to increasing computer literacy.”

Hopefully, Cape Town’s success in the integration of smart technology will give other African cities a big push in that direction. I’m looking at you, Abuja and Lagos.

Loretta Adamu Author

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