An island is where you prove evolution. The Galapagos confirmed Darwin’s theory and islands now have the opportunity to lead development in IoT. I have just spent two days at the ‘Island of Things’ event in Jersey and it has reaffirmed my belief that islands can be the crucible for the next stage of infrastructure that is led by use cases, builds social capital, reinvigorates the economy, and proves what could be possible in cities.
Why islands; it is useful to step back and look at the top three barriers to the development of smart cities. The most important is that smart city activity in most areas of the world is led by a city authority and is therefore subject to the vagaries of the election cycle. You cannot plan, develop and resource a smart city within a four-year election cycle. The second is a consequence of the first in that cities have not developed an apolitical, informed, educated and empowered customer with concomitant authority, responsibility and budget to take long term decisions on smart city development. There is hubris in announcing 10/20/30 year plans when you are in power for four years. The second is that budgets are still devolved to, and protected by, departments which exacerbates the ‘who pays and who gains’ game. Finally, cities are large, complicated and it’s difficult to find manageable executive leadership that reflects the stakeholder community alongside the city authority. They have yet to become a client you can work with.
Ergo; smart islands. I am not saying that they do not have politics, silos, elections and very often a natural conservatism, suspicion of the ‘new’ and outsiders in particular. This is offset by a strong sense of community predicated on survival and the common good. When push comes to shove they will pull together. They have all the same concerns and constraints of doing more with less and concerns on net immigration and emigration. The difference between the smart city arena and the smart island arena is that the solutions required are similar to cities, but the population is smaller, and you can get all the people that matter to get things done into one room.
Therefore, if you are a supplier who wants to showcase the art of the possible it makes good business sense to prove what is possible in an island rather than a city and I would argue that Jersey is the place to do it. There is no shortage of islands, c.100k in fact and over 600m people live on islands. Like the cities market they range from large to small with Singapore as the ‘Ronaldo’ of islands and others such as Malta and Mauritius have embraced the digital world, but the Goldilocks island is Jersey. Singapore is excellent but has a command and control political structure that is not easily replicated elsewhere. Many islands have an underdeveloped economy, and many are over reliant on tourism. Jersey is part of the developed world with a democratically elected government that does have concomitant responsibility, authority and budget, over 100k people and a mixed economy of agriculture, tourism, and a world class financial and professional services industry that has given it a communications and IT infrastructure that would be the envy of most major cities. As such it is well placed to create replicable solutions applicable to cities in the developed world and it has been far thinking enough to create Digital Jersey to drive the external digital transformation of the island. With fibre to all the homes on the island, three telecom networks, CCTV coverage, a brand-new state of the art hospital in the works, a port and airport, Jersey is offering to be a sandbox for the future.
As mentioned earlier, Jersey already has a world class Financial Services industry but knows that it will need to stay current and Digital Jersey has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.
In conclusion, if you are a supplier who wants to partner with Jersey to prove the art of the possible in digital transformation, get in touch with Digital Jersey or me to start the conversation.
Find out more about Jersey’s IoT Sandbox.