Smart Cities deserve smarter buying – Why a new approach to buying may be needed

by Gary Atkinson | Sep 15, 2017

Smart City, Lighting, smart city technology, energy saving, Smart City Solutions


Budgets within the public sector are a continuing challenge, there is no sign that changes to funding are going to improve within the foreseeable future, if anything further ‘efficiencies’ will continue to be sought. We all understand that the overall size of the cake has reduced, but what makes investment for the long term even harder is the way budgets are allocated and accounted for. This can drive unintended consequences and have the perverse outcome of creating inefficiencies.

Within many businesses when investing in large IT projects there is common criteria that is usually applied to the decision-making process called TCO, or total cost of ownership. This encourages the business to consider the lifetime costs of their decisions and balance out maybe a slightly higher investment in Capex with a significantly lower lifetime Opex cost. This doesn’t appear to be the case in public sector organisations. I have been in plenty of meetings with civil servants and people working in local government discussing potential solutions for the challenges they face. As you would expect cost is a major consideration of any buying decision. But all too often we have been met with comments such as ‘I only care about the cost of installation, the running costs belong to another department’.

How is an organisation going to get the best value if they only ever consider part of the cost? This doesn’t even start to bring into focus the considerations of future proofing your investments. If your buying decisions are focused, as so many are, on delivering value for money, that has to go beyond just the initial cost of deploying a solution. If the downstream costs of limits in technology or functionality limit future choices, that cheaper solution may start to look very expensive.

We have encountered councils that have outsourced almost all of their infrastructure to independent businesses with 20 year contracts, and now find themselves unable to deploy smart city solutions as they no longer have access to their own environment. That is a decision they may have to live with for a generation.

As the built environment becomes increasingly complex and the technology decision more important, maintaining control, flexibility and access to your environment feel like sensible criteria against which to make your buying decisions.

Our seven considerations and buying criteria for a smart city

  1. Consider the total cost of ownership (lifetime cost)
  2. Encourage joint decision making across teams
  3. Make sure you retain access and control of your assets
  4. Do you need to invest to save?
  5. Is your proposed solution future-proof?
  6. Do you get unfettered access to your data including transfer in the future?
  7. What other problems could you solve in the future with this investment?

If you would like to know more about enLight®’s Smart City Pilot Kit or to see how your local council can install our latest Smart City Applications for very little investment and very little risk click the link below.

 Smart City Pilot Kit pdf

Subscribe to our Newsletter