Redefining Your Greenfield: Existing Cities Find Greenfield Opportunities

Unfortunately, I will not able to deliver the keynote presentation at Forrester’s upcoming Infrastructure and Operations Forum in Paris as planned.  The theme of the conference is “Redefining your greenfield,” and I was looking forward to sharing my observations of “greenfield” in the context of smart cities.  So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

A “greenfield” presents the opportunity to do things differently, to innovate.  We often think of a greenfield as the clean slate, the ability to start from scratch, to create without the baggage of history, without existing infrastructure, without meddling stakeholders.  We often hear of greenfields these days in the context of new cities – the massive infrastructure projects cropping up in the deserts of the Gulf region, or in Asia.  In the IT world, we think of the entrepreneurial start up building out their infrastructure from ground up.  Or even an emerging market with no technology legacy.  But greenfield opportunities aren’t just for startups or emerging markets, and moreover, their grass isn’t always greener.

That’s not to say the promise isn’t appealing.  The new, technology-enabled greenfield cities provide a clean slate, and the ability to test new technologies and practices.  Think about:

  • Networking across the city to facilitate home entertainment, telecommuting, remote diagnostics, eLearning, and eGovernment.
  • Smart grids to respond more quickly to vagaries in electricity supply and demand, and to enable self-repairing networks.
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