The World Health Organization states that the world’s urban population is expected to double by 2050. Such an increase in population implies a detailed plan to achieve a better appraisal of resources. Smart City technological initiatives are about working plans to enhance sustainable growth and improve the quality of life of the citizens. These new technological approaches designed to avoid emerging problems associated with urbanisation require a visible involvement of stakeholders in order to succeed.
Nowadays there is a technological gap between low- income groups and the urban elite. This gap is actually reinforcing the disparity of wealth. Smart cities initiatives can bring about inclusion and participation by launching training plans on technology management for city inhabitants while avoiding polarisation among the segments of population. The lack of technological instruction is one of the main reasons of unemployment across European Union and other regions of the world. The access to information is clearly leading to segmentation within societies. As long as you are not able to get access to quality/essential information instantly on the move through Internet/smartphones/apps, you may be considered “poor” and missing the boat.
Smart cities proposal is crucial as long as it is supported by relevant targets in different sectors bringing together goals of a wide variety of stakeholders. Indeed, my plan would be as follows: Increasing the Smartness of a city enables the Smartness of the citizens by boosting connectivity, morale, cooperation, knowledge sharing and, as a result of this, generating efficiency and effectiveness by the optimal use of technologies. Citizens, not only consumers, should be involved in political as well as business processes through technology.
Smart Cities are defined along six dimensions:
- Smart Governance: Entails public, private and civil organisations so the city may work at its best as one organism fuelled by Infrastructures, Hardware, Software and Data Mining. Smart Governance is about transparency and open government enabled by apps in terms of citizens’ decision-making and e-public services.
- Smart Economy: Entails e-business processes and e-commerce to boost sustainable growth and productivity.
- Smart People: People fed since childhood by e-skills that promote creativity, critical thinking and Independence fostering innovation by all means.
- Smart Mobility: Smart Mobility means integrated transport and logistics systems supported by Wise Infrastructures, Hardware, Software, Data Mining and Clean Energies.
- Smart Living: Smart Living means healthy and safe living through smart technologies and apps that enable responsible life styles, behaviour and consumption.
- Smart Environment: this means renewable and clean energies managed by ICT (Information and Communication Technology) monitoring. The main objective is a clean environment with pollution and trash disposal under control.
Three powerful concepts are strongly connected to Smart cities initiatives: Technology, Institutions (Private/Public) and the complexity of humans. The complexity of humans has been dealt with by disciplines like Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Cybernetics, and so on but it seems that their results are not really plausible to offer solutions for the majority of the population, as witnessed by increasing of mental diseases to the date.
There are many official definitions of the Smart City. I really like the one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2013): ‘We take the particular perspective that cities are systems of systems, and that there are emerging opportunities to introduce digital nervous systems, intelligent responsiveness, and optimization at every level of system integration‘.
Other thoughtful definitions come from Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster (2012): ‘In a Smart City, networks are linked together, supporting and positively feeding off each other, so that the technology and data gathering should: be able to constantly gather, analyse and distribute data about the city to optimise efficiency and effectiveness in the pursuit of competitiveness and sustainability; be able to communicate and share such data and information around the city using common definitions and standards so it can be easily re-used; be able to act multi-functionally, which means they should provide solutions to multiple problems from a holistic city perspective‘.
China and India are investing a lot of resources and money in developing these Smart Cities. Also European Union and United States. It is time for all of us to move forward with this and be part of the discussion…
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