Five Trends of Smart Cities of the Future

Posted on December 21, 2018

AeronThis guest blog is by Aeron Glemann. Aeron’s a former Facebook engineering manager and UrbanLeap’s first engineer hire.

It’s been an eye-opening experience since joining UrbanLeap a little over 4 months ago. The UrbanLeap platform allows cities and local governments to easily and accurately run small-scale experiments in order to find solutions to their large-scale problems more quickly.

The problems are very real: by 2050 almost 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas presenting new challenges never before faced.

UrbanLeap is an early-stage startup and our customers are among the most progressive of smart governments. As a recent member of the team it’s been fascinating to see what distinguishes these early adopters:

Processes & Technology

These organizations know that technology can’t magically solve problems alone without the right processes backing them up. They’ve embraced Agile and implemented Kanban and Lean – methodologies traditionally associated with the private sector. They’re combining these processes with powerful technologies – everything from IoT to AI. However, often these technologies are coming from an unexpected place…


We are in the age of startups. Startups have been so successful the only problems left are the most difficult ones – many in the public sector. Progressive cities and local governments have embraced startups as both strategic partners in leveraging technology as a solution to their problems, and as a source for innovation itself. This takes vision and this distinguished group of organizations understand this can be most effective when led by the right individual…


Innovation doesn’t just happen; it needs to be managed. These organizations have accepted this and added a CINO – Chief Innovation Officer – role to lead these efforts. The CINO is a visionary, with a good instinct for future trends and how to leverage emerging technologies, and transform ideas to action by collaborating with the right strategic partners. Most importantly these individuals are not afraid to fail (fast) because…

At UrbanLeap we help CINO’s manage their portfolio of innovation experiments.

Small Experiments

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of smart cities is their need to move fast. For organizations that want to compete and thrive they won’t be able to afford projects that run over-time and over-budget – and most importantly – fail to effectively deliver on meeting the needs of their citizens.

The answer is small experiments – pilots – that test solutions quickly, at low-cost and in real-world conditions. It’s not expected that all pilots will succeed, but given their small-scale, the value from learning – and avoiding large-scale failure – exceeds the cost. However for this to be effective the experiments need to be systematically evaluated and the results…

Data Driven

Open data has always been a core tenet of smart cities. The organizations we work with are examples of this in action. The same data driven rigor needs to be applied when evaluating pilots. Organization goals need KPIs and data needs to be diligently and accurately collected and recorded. Decisions can then be taken quickly and accurately and results communicated transparently. UrbanLeap’s platform helps cities and local governments set goals and KPI’s for their pilots and collect and track data in order to make effective decisions.

In summary, smart governments of the future are embracing agile processes from the private sector, partnering with more startups, choosing the right leadership, running small experiments that fail fast and are data driven.

Aeron Glemann is a former Facebook engineering manager and UrbanLeap’s first engineer hire.


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