I think that attracting talents will be one of the most important success factors for cities' management. I do expect to begin a "war" in the frontline of HR (or it has already started) next decade between cities at the global as well as at a regional level. In this war, the role of project managers, advisers, and business developers specialized in the smart city context will become a powerful and long-range gun.

This was the reason to run the project Skills4Cities, which already passed halfway through its implementation.

This short article will be the first one of in total four consecutive articles I will be publishing on the website of the project and the cluster. All of them will be about the roles and expectations we have in relation to the three professions we identified in the project as most important for transforming the cities into smart cities or in what we usually call "future cities".

Creating a smarter urban environment is a multi-sectoral, inter-organizational and intergovernmental task. In order to develop an effective Smart City plan and/or implement a smart city project, it is necessary to bring together people from different backgrounds and with different skills and competencies. These should be usually cross-functional teams composed of individuals from different departments and spheres of expertise brought together to complete Smart City initiatives. Cross-organizational and interdisciplinary teams are the solution in case of integrated plans oriented to a variety of social groups, affected by the problems of shared resources, decreasing budgets, and scarce profit prospects, as in the case of smart city projects (Piercy et al., 2013; Nam and Padro, 2011). Thus, some European cities have started creating dedicated Smart City Departments.

Undoubtedly, the administration and other professionals that work for smart cities require new competencies that currently the education systems provide are quite fragmented. Few universities provide to the learners a well-balanced curriculum for smart city governance. The new types of jobs require the experts to be well trained to meet the needs of smart cities. Such learners, being the future drivers of these industries and smart city agents, are the main human resource to fulfil the vacancies of these workforces. Constant improvements in and re-evaluation of the curriculum taught to the learners have to be done regularly to keep the learners up to date in fulfilling the requirements of the industries and corporations. So, our understanding is that the new era cities need well addressed vocational training of experts who should upgrade their competencies and skills after their classic (normal & formal) education.

Considering the smart city competencies’ needs, we can divide the professionals who are most involved in the process of transforming the cities into smart and implementing smart city plans and activities into three main groups.

1) Internal staff (employees of the cities) of the urban and regional administrations, that are directly committed to the realization of the local government policies, strategies, and plans. From one side these are city officers who are members of the specialized administrations and departments engaged with the smart city matters and from another side, in case of lack of specialized departments, these are regular city officers who could be engaged with the realization of such activities on a project basis.

2) A large group of hired external representatives of the urban economic environment, architects, engineers, as well as technicians who work in the field of technical solutions for smart cities, economists, geologists, cartographers, lawyers, among others, all working as service and equipment suppliers (individuals or companies).

3) Free-lance professionals, hired on a project base, that has the competencies to develop, manage and implement smart city projects - milestones of the cities' transformation process. Skills4Cities project defines these professionals as smart city project developers, managers, and consultants. To our understanding, these professionals are the most important agents of change that can motorize the process of transformation. They are design thinkers and very often leaders of the realization of smart city projects.

Continue ... 

The next article will be dedicated to the third group of professionals the smart cities will be looking for and to the needs for competencies and the roles they can play for the cities.