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ARTICLE: Data-Driven Decision-Making Is Essential to Smart Connected Places

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Current approaches to investing in smart connected places is leading to inefficient network investment. Based on recent client work and previous research, this article, the last in our series of three, presents a four-stage data-driven decision-making framework for policy makers and local authority leaders. By embracing a top-down – as opposed to a bottom-up, technology led approach – local authorities can deliver better outcomes for citizens and smarter connected places.

Don’t Be Embarrassed

We are surrounded by technology hysteria wherever we look. The media is awash with hype pedalled by the technology industry, government policy, technology indicators and league tables comparing 5G, full fibre or the Internet of Things (IoT) rollouts, for example.

No local authority wants to be at the bottom of the technology league table. The very notion of ‘being left behind’ is enough to embarrass and spur decision makers to invest in digital infrastructure.

Although the social and economic benefits of 5G, full fibre and IoT networks are well documented, such a ‘bottom up’ and ‘technology led’ approach to delivering digital infrastructure can be commercially challenging to justify.

For example, the business case to invest in densified 5G networks is still a challenging one to make yet it remains the ambition of many government leaders and policy makers because of the hype.

Further such hasty approach is ‘one-dimensional’ and has led to a patchwork of unconnected technology islands resulting in inefficient network investment. More importantly these networks may not support citizen needs, or the needs of the local authority or its social and economic agenda.

Rather, we propose that local authorities take a ‘top-down’ approach that considers additional factors before investing in technologies and digital infrastructure.

Four-Stage Data-Driven Decision-Making Framework

Based on recent client work and previous client research we can present a four-stage decision making framework that forces policy makers, decision makers and leaders to take the desired outcomes into account in advance of considering the technology.

The four-stage data-driven decision-making framework necessitates top-down thinking, as opposed to a bottom-up, technology led approach, ensuring local authority outcomes and citizen needs are captured.

The framework also maximises the opportunity to attract private sector investment in enabling futureproof digital infrastructure assuring leaders that they will climb the league table rankings.

This approach is described in more detail below and shown in Figure 1 and it should be noted that technology is not considered until later in the decision-making process.

Figure: Four stage decision making framework. Source Intelligens Consulting, 2022.

The first stage is to determine the local authority priority outcomes. Often based on the strategic plan and stakeholder consultations, outcomes can include improving productivity, reducing cost leakage, delivering better services, supporting environmental policy and targets, creating economic growth and jobs or improving social impact and inclusion.

Creating a data-driven decision-making culture is at the heart of the next step which requires local authorities to determine the data that is needed to by decision makers to understand the current challenges needing overcome, to baseline the current performance and to identify priority outcomes that can be addressed through technology.

The next step identifies an optimal technology platform (comprising sensors, digital infrastructure and analytics platforms) that can deliver the data to enable data-driven decision-making. Technology options can be determined by establishing the availability of existing digital infrastructure, future needs of the local authority and the data frequency and size.

Finally, an intervention strategy and go to market strategy should be designed to deliver the required investment in technology and digital infrastructure. The intervention should attract private-sector investment which can deliver innovative and future-proof digital infrastructure as well as delivering the priority outcomes.

If implemented correctly, the proposed framework can deliver a harmonised technology fabric supporting data-driven decision-making creating the foundations of smart connected places.

How We Can Help

Intelligens Consulting has delivered top-down outcome based smart connected place strategies for our clients while delivering private sector led investment in innovative and future-proof digital infrastructure creating significant social and economic impact.

Our team of technology, strategy, economic, procurement and finance experts can also provide strategic, technical and procurement support, research and economic analysis and we can source private funders to finance the development of digital infrastructure.

We have also written extensively on the IoT investment case and its benefits.

Please contact us should you wish to learn more about our approach and anything else discussed in this article.

Data-Driven Decision-Making Is Essential to Smart Connected Places
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