Yuriy Nazarov and Amin Faraji and Amin Gharibi confident that the introduction of certain technologies can solve most of the global problems of cities if there is a clear strategy and vision of which, where, how, and why
Head of the SmartCity.UA initiative Yuriy Nazarov talked with colleagues from the Smart City Research Center, Amin Faraji (President of Smart City Research Center of Iran; Assistant Prof. at the University of Tehran) and Amin Gharibi (vice-president of Smart City Research Center of Iran.). In Iran, as in the rest of the civilized world, smart technologies are being introduced in cities of all sizes. They also have their victories and failures as cities face problems of overpopulation or vice versa, decline, recession, energy, and many other challenges. Nazarov and representatives of Iran are confident that the introduction of certain technologies can solve most of the global problems of cities if there is a clear strategy and vision of which, where, how, and why.
This was stated by the head of the SmartCity.UA initiative Yuriy Nazarov during an online discussion on the topic “The Smart City Research Center of Iran. Challenges and opportunities”, which took place on June 29.
In an online conference, Nazarov and his Iranian colleagues discussed, among other things, the idea of creating a “Smart City Research Center” in Iran; the proposals for transforming the country's cities into smart cities in the coming years. They also discussed the challenges faced by urban governance in transforming into smart urban governance, major smart city projects in Iran, the collaboration between institutions and companies on sustainability and digitization issues, start-up movement, and key approaches that help smart cities take a leadership position in a smart sphere in a new world.
“Smart cities are expected to be the key to linking renewable energy with continued economic growth and job creation. As you know, there are many definitions of a smart city, including “sustainable, smart, safe and green”. However, the common denominator seems to be good test data and smart tools that also bring knowledge and people together to make changes.
Smart cities now face important challenges such as growing populations, lack of physical and social infrastructure, environmental and regulatory requirements. Planning is expensive, and it is necessary to learn to find new and smart ways to manage city life and solve various problems. We have a great opportunity to learn from the experience of the Iranians in the field of "smart city", said Nazarov.
Amin Faraji said that the emergence of the Center was driven by the need to find new solutions to the existing problems faced by the cities of Iran, such as a decrease in population density, economic recession, and so on.
“As you know, Iran's 60-year history and planning experience has shown that we cannot solve your problem in Iran based only on physical activity and based on comprehensive or detailed planning. We need a new form of planning, a new form of design, a new form of cities. All of this occurs in a smart city. We need new solutions. This was the main idea that prompted us to create the Research Center. The second reason may be the need for an official resource in Iran to deal with smart cities,” said the President of the Smart City Research Center of Iran.
“First of all, we need a clear national strategy for the creation and development of smart cities. We are helping to create a national Smart City committee, which will be chaired by our Center. In addition, transforming a city into a smart one will require a proper budget. As you know, in developing countries and around the world, when we talk about this smart project, a project becomes a real launch when it has a budget and good funding."
In Iran, in its cities, we face some problems, especially in the process of transforming our cities into “smart” ones. One of the main problems is the traditional, entrenched management system of cities and municipalities. This is indeed a barrier, and it resists the adoption of new, in fact, a new approach to urban planning, solutions.
So, the first is the new structure of urban planning, and the second is the lack of integrated urban management in Iran. The mayor or city council intervenes in all types of city planning: energy, education, health. And the lack of sustainable income: about four decades ago, the Iranian government limited the budgets of cities and municipalities and forced them to generate income for themselves. This decision has forced the cities to face financial problems,” added the President of the Smart City Research Center, Amin Faraji.
Iran is also known as the startup ecosystem, said the vice-president of the Center, Amin Gharibi. Thanks to them, many cities in the country have managed to attract billions of dollars in revenues, some of which can be used, among other things, to transform cities into “smart” ones.
“We should talk about the emergence of those startups that have an advantage in the field of innovation. Perhaps Iran's startup ecosystem can be considered the most serious ecosystem that has ever existed. In the last two or three years, the process of creating startups has grown exponentially, and their number has increased from 25 companies in 2013 to more than 3,000 in 2015, and now there are about 10 thousand. Startups that have been financially accommodated by big companies have generated more than $ 2 billion in revenue last year alone. "
Experience has shown that many problems in all cities in Iran, from large to small and medium-sized, cannot be solved with physical solutions. To create smart cities, we need to rethink strategies for solving population problems. At the Iranian Research Center, we believe that the main idea of the approach to reformatting cities is their transformation by the requirements of Iranian cities based on the climatic, economic, cultural, and other characteristics of the country. The main market factors that dictate the change in smart cities can also be named: a specific and systematized transformation strategy, updated and applied research standards, experience, human resources, and, most importantly, the budget,” Gharibi said.
When Nazarov asked what the most valuable advice the Iranians would give to the cities of Ukraine today to prepare for a return to normal life after the coronavirus, Amir Gharibi replied as follows: in the future, you just need to take into account possible similar "pandemics", but in general it is best to continue working and attract government and business for funding.
“The most correct approach would be to envisage phenomena similar to the coronavirus pandemic in their infrastructure projects and implement them with the support of the Ukrainian government and synergy between the main major players and shareholders. On the terms provided by the Ukrainian authorities, the Smart City Research Center of Iran is fully prepared to engage its forces, as well as Iranian service and product providers, to help make Ukraine one of the smartest countries in the world,” Gharibi said.