The importance of increasing awareness of intangible values must be aligned with people’s real, and not virtual, well-being
We are living in historic times, with deep socio-economic changes, which nobody believes will return us to the same place we came from. If we analyse much of this process we see that technology is an unstoppable causal agent in this transition and in turn, an agent which effects such a change.
For us, efficient and sustainable management is based on a broad consensus of principles and values, and it is going to depend a great deal on the sustainable success that such changes will bring. It is a real challenge to intelligently transform, in a single step, the apparent decline in well-being into the social, economic and environmental Smart Cities of the 21st century.
Undoubtedly, the political and legislative roles will not be easy. They have to achieve a healthy balance between the alignment of social vectors, putting suitable context conditions so that other actors such as companies, families and society in general converge towards this transformation with universal success.
We are basically emotional entities in our behaviour and above all in our cities, homes and jobs, where we are distant from nature and surrounded by technology - emocities. We are continually subjected to sensations, stimuli and consumer satisfactions that are prone to addiction, frustration, isolation and instability if we do not balance the rational use of technological emotions. Increasing public awareness in the use of emotional technology is a real challenge for Smart Cities.
In this article we propose, as a way to reflect, a walk with challenges in some of the different key areas of our urban society: health, home, work, leisure, relationships, family, governance, training, solidarity and services in general.
On this walk we will reflect on the importance of increasing our awareness of the intangible values that will make the use of these unstoppable technological advances and align them with people’s real and not virtual, well-being.
We cannot forget the first systemic proverb in order to find balanced solutions that truly take into account our management: bread for everybody is incompatible with efficiency. We need to simplify and not fall into the technical simplicity that fixes on one hand and breaks on the other, or fixes now and breaks later.
Health Challenge: To optimise remote assistance and BigData that offers us 21st century illness technology and remote consultations. This has to result in face-to-face assistance and the best emergency services in terms of human and technical quality. Value: comprehensive health and prevention.
Home Challenge: There is a huge source of job creation here because there is so much to do remodelling homes, in energy efficiency, home automation, community services and sustainability. Plans which are well aligned with individual purchasing power and tailored grants help them. Value: the pleasure of sharing.
Work Challenge: If we see dramatic changes in one particular area, this will be it. The disappearance of several jobs is an inevitable result of technological development; this happened in the industrial age and now it will be even more drastic still. Our ability to reinvent ourselves and to detect new emerging services, and care facilities is our great challenge. Self-employment and labour flexibility will be a great release valve. By understanding that it is not necessary to work more but better hours, and with higher salaries indexed to the quality which paradoxically indirectly enriches dynamic consumption. Won’t we be doing something wrong with generalisations? Value: commitment.
Leisure Challenge: It is almost as a result of the previous challenge that we will have more free time available. The optimised management of that time will result in the increased quality of society as a whole: leisure time, learning time, time for cooperation and solidarity... Value: friendship and respect.
Relationship Challenge: Social networks, mobile phones, tablets… we are inundated with information. Be careful not to apply complex technological solutions to simple things. Meeting in a park will always be better for our backs than two-hour conversation via chat. Value: love above everything.
Governance: The challenge in administrative tasks will be the actual simplification of process implementation that does not involve an imposition but an acceptance of improvement. Value: comprehensive education and freedom.
Solidarity: We will live together in cities with multiple different social actors coexisting. With augmented reality everywhere, we should not move away from the actual reality that people need people. To marginalise or isolate the most disadvantaged people cannot be a creative 21st century Smart City solution, and sanctions shouldn’t have to make up for the lack of education and social awareness programmes either. Value: Co-operation.
Communication with images needs to be our great instructor in 21st century Emoticies everywhere. I close this article by returning to emphasise the importance of emotional education in the use of technology, emotional technology, so that we know how to take advantage of its unstoppable rise, to enhance it so that we do not distance ourselves from the essence of who we are: more conscious people in the 21st century.
By Esteban Sitges
Senior Telecommunications Engineer, Entrepreneur, and Consultant specialised in sustainable organizational efficiency.