By Debbie Fisher, Market and Consumer Insight, Alcatel-Lucent.
As we continue our blog series around smart cities, research now shifts to the beautiful city of Zurich — best known by many for being the city with the highest cost of living. But to the citizens of Zurich, their city is one that today offers a high quality of life. And given this positive view, it’s no surprise that citizens are also very satisfied with the city’s overall “smartness.” This view is backed up not only by local residents, but also reported in Mercer’s 2011 Quality of Living ranking.
I’ve just returned from Zurich where we interviewed several citizens on their definition and vision of a smart city. As well we asked which services they thought could make a difference in their lives. Along with unseasonably warm weather, I heard what I can best describe as the “sunny,” satisfied disposition of Zurich citizens. The most commonly repeated phrase seemed to be “I have everything I need.” We’re proud to hear that our customer EWZ, via its ewz.zürinet, plays an important part in providing residents with the needed infrastructure. Internet access is nearly ubiquitous and allows for a virtual workplace. Swiss Railway and Zurich Traffic apps are already available for iPhone users and support the heavily used, efficient trams and trains.
But as we probed further with several of these satisfied citizens, we did hear some innovative ideas that caught my attention. The first one I’ll call Pedal Power. Keen interest in energy efficiency and eco-sustainability underlies this idea to have inhabitants report regularly to a local health club facility to ride a bike or “pedal” to help produce clean energy. There’s a double benefit — people stay fit and active while contributing to society’s energy needs. Very clever indeed!
Another insight came from a young father who expressed his support for the investments being made in fiber across the city and sees this as key to long-term success. He spoke of the idea of connecting pharmacies, patients, and doctors to improve health care, virtual shopping, and video communication as the vehicle of choice over SMS. But at the same time, these services need to be balanced so people don’t lose the social contact they gain by interacting with each other — face to face, person to person.
This feeling was echoed by another who suggested that new services are nice, but let’s not neglect the fact that customer experience is key…and for some providers, deserves more attention than investments in new services. Translation: Fix what you do today before you offer something new.
Maybe it has something to do with the advent of spring, but I left Zurich with a smile and I was glad to hear that its residents felt safe, secure, and happy that they were living in a smart city that delivers on their expectations for a high quality of life.
Watch for more blog posts on what we’re hearing from people around the globe and stay tuned for our detailed analysis on what we learned during our interviews later this year. If you’re new to joining the topic (or just want to learn more), check out our initial study which kicked off this Smart City project —“Getting Smart about Smart Cities”
For an exclusive and limited access to download our Market Analysis and Executive Summary please visit our web site at www.alcatel-lucent.com/mci.