Smart City Trends: What is your definition of Smart City?

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From ‘smart dogs’ parks in Italy to revolutionary low-cost projects in the Brazilian favelas (slums); from state of the art in the so called “Singapore Smart Nation” to ultra-fast free public wifi project in New York;  I have been also everywhere and I have seen a lot! I have been researching and writing a lot about Smart Cities, mainly to try to put together my ideas for my doctoral thesis. I can say that the world started talking more effectively about the topic since the eighties. In the beginning the concepts where coming from the United States and Europe but nowadays we can find definitions, thoughts and cases about Smart Cities coming from all the continents. I have already cataloged almost 150 citations and I am now working on my own definition or statement, that I hope I will have ready by April 2017. Today I would like to start sharing my ideas with you and to invite you to develop it with me.

Smart City is not just a global trend, It is not a fancy urban tendency or tech revolution, It is a need. It is quite clear that the world is rushing to get smarter to not collapse. In my opinion any definition for the term „Smart City” nowadays should embrace at least five key-words and being a newbie can bring some advantages:

  • Information and communication technologies- definitely technology has played an important hole during the last 20 years of smart cities development. Perhaps before it was just about it and now we have realised the importance of the citizens in the process. But technology is still the main enabler and will be more and more in the future when IoT (Internet of things) will become a reality.
  • Citizen-centred – if technology was the core of the earlier projects in an era so called Smart City 1.0, now “the citizen” is the new black. All the migration problems that are bringing the chaos to mega cities are related to people in the same way that smart solutions that are being applied should be people-oriented. This was the exactly missing link in the past to connect different ITC „smart” projects in a city, assuring a full systemic feeling of Smart Cities instead of isolated projects perceived only by the direct beneficiaries.
  • Leverage in Quality of Life – it is not just solving problems anymore, the real deal should be a better life in the city. Here the citizen perception plays an important role. However we have international standards to analyse, we have to measure and compare the liveability in a city, the main indicator should not be your rank among cities but the real impact in your city and citizens along the time. Following this argument, we can say that Smart City projects in developing economies, despite of the huge economic, social and structural lack, can be extremely beneficial for all social classes.
  • New economic outlook – not only technology is disrupting our lives but also the new economic behaviour is influencing our routines. The rising of a creative class empowered but the new sharing economy concepts are shaping our new society. The millennial generation wants to co-create with companies the products they will consume, so why would it be different for cities? Recently I released several articles around the world with the same title – City SmartUP – putting together two powerful trends: Smart Cities and Startups. This is also a great advantage for cities that are deciding to become smarter. The new order for companies is to be simple, effective and fast , why not applying also for cities? This new generation are used to terms like co-creating and crowdfunding , so why not invite them to be an active stakeholder in your smart city project?
  • City Resilience – another popular concept that bring another perspective for Smart Cities. If the core idea is to use technology to mitigate urban problems and leverage quality of life, it definitely can help cities to be faster and more effective in adapting themselves. Smart Village concepts, for example, can help small towns to avoid losing people and become economically sustainable. Key-point here is to be able to draw a very realistic and precise analysis of your city, identifying the City DNA and based on it to develop the Smart City strategy. Keep sharp in yourmind that you don’t want a new city, you want your city to go smarter!
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