According to United Nations reports, by 2030 over 70% of the world population are likely to be concentrated in the so-called global cities, imposing dramatic changes in our lives. As an attempt to solve these problems, we are experiencing a strong orientation in both public and private sectors for the development of “Smart Cities”.
Old cities are being retrofitted around the world in order to be more sustainable. In addition, some cities are being built from ground zero, 100% designed and oriented to be smart since their first draft plans. India has recently announced a multi-billionaire project to build 100 smart cities. China and South Korea already have new fully-operational cities. Regardless of the complexity, the stage of development or amount of investments, the most remarkable similarity among smart cities is the intense use of information and communication technologies - ICT and the main focus to make citizens’ life better.
In 2015, I have visited personally 25 Smart City projects around the world, included Singapore, known as "Smart Nation”, one of the most developed smart cities in the world. The country has managed to leverage the use of high-technology applied to the management of the city-state and to the wellness of the citizens in an effective public-private partnership. Singapore can be considered a hybrid smart city project, combining a deep city retrofit with new greenfield urban clusters, which makes this research possible in both perspectives.
In my personal opinion, there are two main issues to be aware when you are managing a smart city project:
1.- Be sure that all projects have long-term orientation, not just aiming to save the urban problem addressed but to bring a real positive impact to the citizens. Very often a short-term solution can drive the city to other unexpected results in the future. I would recommend to public administration to think at least 15 years ahead when planning a Smart City program. Barcelona 2030 or the London Infrastructure 2050 Plan are good cases to illustrate it.
2.- Communication and transparence - probably the public perception about the problem is as important as the positive results. If citizens don't perceive like living in a smart city, an important dimension is missing: Smart People. Again, Singapore, with its Smart Nation project, is watering the concept of communication with the citizens. It has an proactive agency to manage the project called IDA - Infocomm Development Authority.
I have chosen a nice video that illustrates very clearly how a soft technological solution can define the success of an intereaction. It shows the difference of short and long-terms approaches in solving the same problem, using basically the same resources. Enjoy it…