Disruption is 1.0...Collaboration is 2.0...Partnerships are 3.0
Urban transformation is complex and comes in different phases--with the advent of new technology, there's a continual shift in the development within cities which affects growth and economic wealth creation and which ultimately results in a new social order. And this continual shift opens the door for disruption in civic society by organizations that respond to the changing needs and demands of society, offering up solutions to problems that the local government isn't addressing.
Disruption in Civic Society 1.0
Though our society is now more technologically driven than ever before, new technology is one of the factors that invites disruption. An example of this would be companies like Uber and Lyft. Both companies offered up a solution by taking advantage of a gap in society--the need for more drivers to transport people. While both of these companies basically evade every possible law and policy framework that's been in place for more than a century, they succeed because they're supplying a service that's in demand and providing a solution that has not been addressed by local municipalities. These companies have also disrupted their industry; taking advantage of the slow moving incumbents who are overconfident and only begin to react when they realize that their businesses are taking a downward turn, but the realization comes too late. A brilliant, but an unsustainable model in the current legal framework of most governments around the world.
But what Uber and Lyft and other similar companies did was to demonstrate that there is a problem. Other startups and entrepreneurs are creating disruptive technologies--many more than city leaders realize simply because they're not as high profile as Uber and Lyft. But when governments begin to recognize there's a problem; solutions can't be too far off, unless they refuse to address them. The question is, once the disruption is in place, how do government leaders take away something that society is happily using? This is where collaboration comes into play.
Collaboration begins when city and government leaders realize everyone is in way over their heads. The services that society demanded and is now receiving from outside forces that responded when they didn't or were slow to act are too valued to just take away. So what's next? At this point, it's time to collaborate, to partner with those that can bring collaborative innovation, help rebuild or create better, smarter city infrastructure platforms. The solution? Partnering with the private sector, turning to leaders in the industry sector in need of innovation. Embracing innovation with an entrepreneurial mindset is key to help define a path to benefit society.
Forging partnerships is the next step. First, disruption revealed that there was a problem, then collaboration helped leaders define it and begin to figure out solutions and at this point, it's time to find the right partners and bring them in. Partnering with the private sector, city leaders can find custom tailored solutions to create smarter infrastructures, to provide better services in transportation, security, energy, mobility, communication and other areas. To anticipate and respond to the public need more rapidly than ever before. Once a partnership is in place, the city can then begin to integrate new technologies and solutions that result in economic growth, and increased environmental and social value--thus not only addressing the issues that caused the disruption but also improving the quality of life for all who live there.
While disruption may seem inevitable, city and governmental leaders can overcome it by understanding the causes, defining solutions and working with private sector experts who can put them into place.
Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, Co-founder and visionary behind P3 Global Management, P3GM and KAPTYN. At P3GM & KAPTYN he leads the global development and policy work behind structuring Public Private Partnerships (PPP) around smart infrastructure with local, state and federal governments.