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Smart cities: a transformative holistic and comprehensive vision

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Smart cities, a transformative, holistic and comprehensive vision

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14 May 2013

As you have probably noticed we have been talking about cities in the last two posts, “The major challenges of future cities” and “Cities facing a new crossroads“, but we have avoided the Smart City term. Obviously it was on purpose and for two reasons:

First, because this term is widely used to name the current transformation that cities are facing. As some people have been presenting, cities have been trying to steadily become smarter since the beginning of their existence. We should ask the Etruscans, who governed the Rome Empire at the century VI AC, how smart it was to introduce the sewage system in the roman urbs.

Second, because even though Smart City is also defined as the process of introducing technology in the cities, we wrongly call Smart City to any city which promotes any improvement initiative through the deployment of new technologies.

However, the concept of Smart City must go beyond the fact of applying the latest technological innovations to a city, its processes and services, and beyond the fact of giving a fancy name to the nth transformation of the urban space.

The concept of Smart City poses a transformative, holistic and comprehensive vision of the city, centred on the citizen as final target and driving agent of this transformation and talks about transparency, participation, effectiveness, efficiency, agility, cost reduction, inclusion, cooperation, sustainability and system of systems. For all of these reasons, a city should be:

  • Efficient, committed, competitive and sustainable in its economic, social and environment fields.
  • Participatory, open, transparent and responsible in its management and its relationships with all the social agents.
  • Innovative, capable of rethinking traditional models of service delivery and structures of the city.
  • Digital and interconnected, use new technologies as tools to advance their development, ITC not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end.
  • Oriented to continuous improvement of its parameters of sustainability, efficiency and welfare.

     

In order to identify the keys of this transformation, we will separate the keys in the three different agents involved in this transformation:

  • The Citizen has to be the centre of all approaches (public or private) of the city and should adopt a triple role: demand generator, consumer services and solution provider.
  • Administrations should promote and facilitate the transformation of cities by promoting public policies and regulations with smart in mind. Furthermore, it has to cover all the stakeholders that influence this transformation.
  • Companies have to focus on the promotion of talent and the knowledge-based economy as one of the key assets for economic growth, pulling and boosting local and/or small business.

Another global key is that the general framework of the Smart Cities should be distinguished for each city, according to their required capabilities and degree of evolution. For this reason, there is no single model for a Smart City but there are as many models as cities that you want to transform.

But with a final and main goal, increase the levels of welfare in the city and to be able to respond to the needs and problems of citizens. A Smart City is the ideal city where everybody would like to live:

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