Cross-functionality, a source of performance for a digital city

Cable car representing the cross-functionality

Variety of missions, variety of projects

A community is very different from a company by the diversity of its missions. A factory, for example, has a well-defined mission: to produce such and such a range of product, in volume, at the best cost and with the best possible quality; a few skilled capabilities are sufficient to carry out this work. The city, for its part, is involved in multiple tasks as diverse as the management of buildings, roads, green spaces, waste collection and treatment, reception of the public, etc.

It makes a huge difference in digital transformation. In a factory, everything is highly specialized; but at the community level, it is the variety that dominates:

  • Multiple infrastructures: a city has roughly one public building for every 500 inhabitants, which quickly amounts to 100 or more. For different uses (technical, sports, administrative, educational …) and various levels of technical equipment. To the building, we must add parks and gardens, public bins and countainers (buried columns, bin cabinets), charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, public parking lots, swimming pool, etc. A challenge to manage properly.
  • Considerable digitization potential, each department, each element of infrastructure, even each building, having its technical and operational specificity. Fortunately, not all digital projects need to be big, and many situations can be optimized with a dash of technology and a little bit of common sense.

A project = a solution, an unsustainable equation

In the same way that we cannot imagine changing software for each new spreadsheet, it is not possible to address each need through a specialized solution:

  • Too complex: each tool has its own language, codes, interfaces (web platform, dedicated application, etc.); at best, users will make the effort on just a few, or even reject outright the approach whose practical difficulty destroys the expected benefits;
  • Too cumbersome: multiple suppliers to integrate, multiple contracts to manage, interfaces to negotiate and manage with each system (or even between them);
  • Too expensive: the increase in spending quickly becomes a limiting factor, which affects the number of projects effectively deployed and slows down the modernization and optimization of operations that cities need today.

That’s why a transversal solution, capable of withstanding many use cases within the community, will allow it to avoid these pitfalls.

Cable car representing cross-functionality

Transversal solution for the digital city : what are the essentials ?

The three essential qualities of a transversal solution for a digital territory:

1.Versatility of use cases

The versatility of the solution is the very essence of transversality. The solution must make it possible to address many situations within the city or territory considered. Including future projects not yet planned (or not yet imagined) which will appear at a sustained pace.

To achieve this, the solution must be open enough to interconnect with many business applications and data sources of all kinds (IoT and connected machines, building management systems, web services, etc.).

2.Simplicity and scalability of project implementation

For the professionals, by the professionals: it is very important that digital projects are set up by the very people who need them. In a city, these are typically those responsible for buildings, mobility, parks and gardens, waste collection and treatment, etc. These agents are experts in their profession, without being computer scientists. Setting up a project must therefore be simple (not requiring complex training) without, however, affecting the richness of the scenarios available.

  • Autonomy: systematic recourse to the IT department poses problems of workload for it, organizational complexity (prioritization, planning, etc.) and introduces unnecessary lead times. The IT department validates the tools, sets up their integration into the Information System, possibly provides support to users, but must be involved as little as possible in the adjustment and daily use of cross-functional tools.
  • Scalability: needs change, areas for optimization appear, organizations evolve – and scenarios should do the same, without difficulty. Fine-tuning the functional logics must be simple and ultra-fast.

3.Intuitive use

In many situations, the end user will be different from the business expert who set up the scenarios; these may involve field agents, external partners, or even citizens. It is in practice impossible to mobilize the attention of these audiences on new tools. Interactions with users must be intuitive and reuse the generic tools they use on a daily basis.

While, in some cases, the implementation of very specialized solutions may be a good choice for the digital city, the deployment of multiple solutions remains too complex, too cumbersome and inaccessible in terms of budget. That’s why a transversal solution, capable of supporting many scenarios is an absolute necessity.

This must be versatile, scalable and intuitive: qualities inherent in no-code and natural language implementation of which Agora Software is the precursor.

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