Which is better: a Smart City that adapts to our needs or a Smart City that helps us re-prioritise our needs?

Dealing with the unknown is perhaps the greatest challenge facing humanity in 2020. Infrastructure at every level is being challenged. The value of data, resource allocation and predictive data mapping is beyond measure as we deal with issues that stretch governments, citizens and business like never before.

One of the outcomes of dealing with the unknown is that it will bring new ways of living. In anticipation of a future “new normal”, now is a good time to revisit the genesis of Smart Cities and their purpose.

Legend has it that smart city thinking began in 2005 during a meeting of IT and electronics industry leaders with former US President Bill Clinton. Apparently, during a conversation about social problems in major American cities, Bill Clinton is said to have remarked something like “you should make those cities smart”.

We don’t know if Clinton was concerned with the cities in question being better for the environment, government, citizens or business, or a combination of all four, but it is said that this was the beginning of thinking that uses data as a way of better managing spaces.

The intent behind the use of smart city data is at the core of better outcomes. However the question is “Better for whom?” The choices ahead of us as we develop new Smart Cities to cope with future unknowns are:

Citizen Driven Smart Cities

Residents and users of the environment choose, either by their actions or decisions, the type, scale and level of modern amenities a Smart City uses and deploys.

Business Driven Smart Cities

Digital industrial businesses play a central role in Smart City development and drive the gathering and use of data that is used by government and citizens.

Infrastructure and Resource Management Smart Cities

This is where political leaders, administrators, engineers and urban managers develop Smart Cities to make best use of existing resources and predict the need for future infrastructure.

Size and Space Driven Smart Cities

This is where micro-smart zones (a district), multi-polar megalopolises or “village megacities’, are created to make best use of small amounts of space to accommodate large amounts of people.

Modernisation Driven Smart Cities

Smart Cities that contain older infrastructure can be upgraded quickly or can transition in line with its natural population’s needs.

As we work our way through these unknown times, the development of Smart Cities requires a strong partnership between app developers, data gatherers, governments, businesses and citizens.  Strong partnerships with trusted partners are essential but the ability to articulate and deliver on the intent behind the use of Smart City technology is paramount.

About the Author

Graham Mcstay is Executive General Manager Customer Experience for DCA Cities Division. Graham’s expertise lies in understanding customers operations and goals, and aligning DCA solutions to deliver on their strategies. Graham ensures DCA Cities recommends and delivers the right data and technology solutions to meet our varied customer needs.

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