A Better Smart City Strategy for DMO’s

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By: Douglas Ralston, True Omni

Smart City initiatives, including outdoor Smart City kiosks, use technology to share data with the public, integrating city governance with tools that empower people to engage. While many cities have established technology to leverage digital for wayfinding, information, and more; the evolution of these programs will require a transition of direct DMO involvement in the delivery of that content and data to different types of devices, mobile, signage etc. tied to a destination management strategy.

As of 2008, around 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2040, this number is expected to rise to 65%. (Postcapes) As urban centers grow, the populations create more environmental pressures. Smart City applications could help cut emissions, grow operating efficiencies, and uncover critical data to inform sustainability and stewardship initiatives leveraging technology. Studies show that cities that leverage Smart City solutions can improve their energy efficiency by 30% in 20 years. (Postcapes)

To truly improve the Smart City strategy, you will want to look at personalization opportunities once you tap into the potential of information you can learn about that visitor who is now in the destination. Location and time of day can serve as triggers to drive the right content at the right time. Public wayfinding devices present a vehicle to learn more about behavior and demographics. Utilizing a platform your departments can manage and control, providing flexibility of content and connection to mobile and other devices, sets the stage for the future of city communication and planning.

A few key features to look for when considering outdoor digital touchpoints like kiosks:

  • Integrated robust tourism content from the DMO CRM: Listings of restaurants, stores, hotels, events, UGC, and more.
  • Direct cloud-based control of every screen to tailor content, deliver campaigns and improve performance with analytics.
  • Collects valuable data on user traffic, preferences, dwell time, and more to inform governance decisions.
  • Ability to provide additional exposure via promoted listings, banners, special events and other awareness tools and opportunities.
  • Gamification and reward-based tools to get visitors exploring and collect valuable data. (Think photobooth, passports, trails & itineraries delivered to personal devices)
  • Real-time transit information to encourage sustainable travel practices and provide convenience.

  • A WiFi hotspot and listings, maps, etc. that are easily shareable by text or email.
  • ADA and other tools to drive more accessibility for your city and handicapped visitors

Asian markets have been ahead of the trends compared to the US for some time. According to the Yonsei University Smart City Development Index, 33% of cities provide app- or web-based Smart City services for public transportation, 23% do so for culture and tourism, and 8% do so for city administration. (OECD)  The recovery is an opportunity to build our reputation as a premier international destination while delivering best-in-class services to residents and visitors alike.

There are well-established models for destinations to implement Smart City strategies by directly managing digital touchpoints like outdoor kiosks as well as partnering with a 3rd party with an advertising business model to fund your programs. The opportunity that is as yet untapped is for the DMO to directly control its destiny delivering content, campaigns, and gamified exploration tools for visitors. If you are just serving up advertising with a side of information, your Smart City program is not tapping into your DMO’s critical role to connect destination management and community shared value to its value proposition.