Why local government needs to go open source in the smart city

Read why Nick Randall, Zeetta’s Sales and Marketing Director, argues it makes sense for local government to opt for an open source approach to the smart city and beyond.

The smart city is set to grow – and grow at a fast pace –  over the next three years. The market size is estimated to increase 19.4% from $312.03 billion in 2015 to $ 757.74 billion by 2020. (Smart Cities Report). Obviously a market of this scale and potential attracts close attention from vendors of equipment and services of all types, especially the larger well-known brands.

But a big factor in the growth in these smarter cities is the involvement of local government. The agenda for local government is of course diverse but there is a need to foster localised startups in each area to enable the shift to the smart city.

Drivers for these start-ups are social, technological and economic. Technology has advanced such that in terms of hardware and software that the cost of entry is reduced; anyone can innovate on Raspberry Pis and open source software.

In terms of social shifts, start-ups, or more correctly “your own” business, make a lot of sense to an entrepreneurial generation of millennials perhaps not satisfied with corporate life (and agendas). So we have a situation where the big vendors circle while local government wishes to foster the ambitions of its local entrepreneurial community.

This mix of interests and dynamics is one of the many compelling reasons why local government should establish the rules of the bear pit using an Open Standards/Open Frameworks approach. This does not just apply to the smart city data, but to the infrastructure itself.

Taking an open standards approach makes sense for local government as it reduces development costs and mitigates risk. In this cutting-edge field with short innovation cycles, it also allows them to maintain the value of their investment by protecting them as the solutions of the moment are replaced or upgraded.

Right here on our doorstep in Bristol, we’re involved in the “Bristol is Open” project with Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, which is demonstrating the benefits of an open approach to local government as it takes on the task of meeting the city’s future needs. As part of this project our open-source development platform allows enterprises of any size to break into the smart-city markets that have been dominated by the large vendors in the past.

Follow our twitter feed to join the discussion, and if you’re interested in hearing more about how our open source solutions can make your city smart, do get in touch.