Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 36, August 10th, 2018

A Smart City utilizes and integrates multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions securely to develop and manage a city’s key areas. These areas can be all from city governance, citizens’ services, energy management, waste management, water management urban mobility, education, industry development, welfare and health care and other community services. This requires the city to be smart across all sectors and in cooperation with relevant stakeholders internally and externally.

Illustration: MARTINA PAUKOVA in MIT technology review

Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, and they are expected to add another 2.5 billion new residents by 2050. They face increasing environmental pressures and infrastructure needs—and growing demands from residents to deliver a better quality of life and to do so at a
sustainable cost. Smart technologies can help cities meet these challenges, and they are already enabling the next wave of public investment. It all starts with data. Cities, in all their complexity and scope, generate oceans of it. Finding the insights in all that data helps municipal governments respond to fluid situations, allocate resources wisely, and plan for the future. Furthermore, putting real-time information into the hands of individuals and companies empowers them to make better decisions and play a more active role in shaping the city’s overall performance. As cities get smarter, they become more livable and more
responsive—and today we are seeing only a glimpse of what technology could eventually do in the urban environment. [1]

What is a Smart City

A smart city is an urban development vision to improve the lives of the citizens by being open, connected, sustainable and innovative. Smart application, utilization, and integration of new technology, sectors, and services is vital to benefit the most crucial piece in the puzzle: the citizen.

A smart city uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that are processed and analyzed to monitor and control traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services. The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of things or IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and link to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the town and how the city is evolving.

Smart cities add digital intelligence to existing urban systems, making it possible to do more with less. Connected applications put real-time, transparent information into the hands of users to help them make better choices. These tools can save lives, prevent crime, and reduce the disease burden. They
can save time, reduce waste, and even help boost social connectedness. When cities function more efficiently, they also become more productive places to do business. Smart towns may disrupt some industries even as they present substantial market opportunities. Customer needs will force a reevaluation of current products and services to meet higher expectations of quality, cost, and efficiency in everything from mobility to healthcare. Smart city solutions will shift value across the landscape of cities and throughout value chains. Companies looking to enter intelligent city markets will need different skill sets, creative financing models, and a sharper focus on civic engagement.[1]

Examples of Developing Towards the Smart City Idea

We will give you some examples of cities that develop towards the Smart City Idea. We could range between the cities and use measures that describe one city more developed than another. However, we are giving you some examples of different towns and different approaches.

Toronto

On Toronto’s waterfront (Canada), where the eastern part of the city meets Lake Ontario, is a patchwork of cement and dirt. It’s home to plumbing and electrical supply shops, parking lots, winter boat storage, and a hulking silo built in 1943 to store soybeans—a relic of the area’s history as a shipping port. Torontonians describe the site as blighted, underutilized, and contaminated. Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs wants to transform it into one of the world’s most innovative city neighborhoods. It will, in the company’s vision, be a place where driverless shuttle buses replace private cars; traffic lights track the flow of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles; robots transport mail and garbage via underground tunnels; and modular buildings can be expanded to accommodate growing companies and families. [3]

Illustration:  National League of Cities

Chicago

The Chicago (USA) Technology Plan highlights many initiatives within five broad strategies that together will enable Chicago to realize its vision of becoming the city where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement, and innovation. Two of these strategies are foundational—enabling Chicago’s residents and businesses to be digitally-connected and engaged. Three growth strategies then build on this foundation of technological strength. Together, these five technology-focused strategies provide the path to solidifying Chicago’s place as one of the world’s leading cities.

This Smart Collaborative collects pilots in the city [2]:

  • Akey positioning report on what steps the Smart Chicago Collaborative would like to take in the area of digital inclusion.
  • A central hub for coordinating technology training across departments and delegate agencies that have received federal funding
  • A loose network of more than 250 places in the city where Internet and computer access, digital skills training, and online learning resources are available free of charge
  • Trained health information specialists are placed in clinics in low-income areas to help patients connect to their medical records and find reliable information about their conditions.

Oslo

The vision for Oslo (Norway) is to make it a smarter, greener, more inclusive and creative city for all citizens – a smart city that innovates with the citizens’ interest and well-being at the core. There is a wide range of smart city projects in the town, from testing electrical buses, zero-emission construction sites and retrofitting existing buildings to developing circle-based waste management and green energy systems. Any citizen-oriented services that can be digitalized will be digitalized and the needs of the citizens are the guiding principles for development. The vision for Oslo is to make it a smarter, greener, more inclusive and creative city for all citizens – a smart city that innovates with the citizens’ interest and well-being at the core. [4]

Oslo has a wide range of smart technology projects, such as hydrogen and electrical buses. (Photo: Krister Sørbø/City of Oslo)

Melbourne

Smart Cities in Australia will mainly refer to existing cities – integrating and retrofitting smart and sustainable solutions. Melbourne (Australia) – The installation of smart sensor technology and BigBelly bins in Melbourne is aimed at reducing the overflow of waste in street bins. Once the containers hit 70% capacity, they send an alert to a control center to facilitate emptying. The SmartGuide parking system in the city helps in detecting occupancy status of parking spaces and directing drivers to available bays. Through an open data platform, you can view real-time city data. [5]

Illustration: Melbourne 2030: Sustainable and Smart Cities

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv (Israel), the Nonstop City, considers engagement a fundamental value in implementing Smart City principles. It actively involves residents in the urban experience and urban development, while emphasizing involvement in decisionmaking processes and wisdom of the crowd as a means for smart municipal management in the new age. DigiTel is a personalized web and mobile communication platform which provides residents with individually
tailored, location-specific, life situation-based information and services. The platform facilitates a direct and holistic connection between the city and its residents, from alerting residents to neighborhood roadworks to sending targeted reminders for school registration and offering discounts which facilitate access to the many cultural events taking place in the city. The information is delivered by push via different channels, including personal emails, text messages, and a personal resident account. [6]

Photo: Tel Aviv Smart City

New Delhi

The Indian Government launched the Smart Cities Mission on 25 June 2015. This represented and continued to embody an ambitious urban renewal and retrofitting program to develop 100 cities across the country, making them the citizen and environmentally friendly, economically stable and sustainable for future populations. The objective of the Smart Cities Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. The focus is on the sustainable and inclusive development, and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act as a lighthouse to other aspiring cities. The Smart Cities Mission of the Government is a bold, new initiative. It is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalyzing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.

Photo: Hindustan Times

Accordingly, the purpose of the Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes. Area-based development will transform existing areas (retrofit and redevelop), including slums, into better-planned ones, thereby improving the livability of the whole City. New areas (greenfield) will be developed around cities to accommodate the expanding population in urban areas. Application of Smart Solutions will enable cities to use technology, information, and data to improve infrastructure and services. Comprehensive development in this way will enhance quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive Cities. [7]

Abidjan

Africa is the next frontier for innovation in the smart cities arena. Smart City Africa is a business matchmaking, knowledge-transfer, and funding program dedicated to the advancement of Africa’s smart city strategy. With a young and growing population, a rising middle class, rapidly expanding urban centers and the fastest mobile subscriber and smartphone adoption in the world, Africa is well positioned to develop smart cities that can boost employment, economic momentum, and innovation. Smart City Africa is an event in February 2019 focusing on the urbanization of Cote D’Ivoire, francophone Africa’s biggest economy and the world’s largest cacao exporter with a population of 24 million. The elements the event will focus on is construction, digital services, education, energy, food, health, manufacturing, marketing, financial services, public organization, transport, water, and waste. [8]

Smart Learning in a Smart City

In the perspective of lifelong learning, life-wide learning and learning society, learning environments have expanded from schools to a more broader space, and even to the whole city. School, family, community, workplace, and museum can be regarded as typical learning environments in a smart city. Cooperation between universities and technology companies in smart cities could help in knowledge transfer and in developing new syllabuses for training and producing the human resources needed for an innovation-based economy.

Digital technology changes the way education is provided to students. Digitization of schooling allows units of learning to be offered as an independent service. This includes being able to use and reuse digital content in many settings and bundled to support different learning outcomes. With digital technologies and the Internet becoming increasingly integrated into learning, the demand for smart education has grown steadily, especially in smart city scenarios. As the need for life-long learning is on the rise, smart learning environments in cities should be equipped to meet people’s demands. Smart learning/education is also one of the critical applications of smart cities.

Coupled with the ‘smart city’, the idea of the ‘smart school’ is emerging in imaginings of the future of education. Various commercial, governmental and civil society organizations now envisage education as a highly coded, software-mediated and data-driven social institution. Such spaces are to be governed through computational processes written in computer code and tracked through big data.

It has specifically documented two interrelated ways in which education is being reconfigured within smart city imaginaries. First, smart schools are to become programmable educational spaces in which many aspects of administration, leadership, spatial organization, student management, communication and even pedagogy itself are to be governed by processes programmed in code. They are fabricated spaces in-the-making that are undergirded by a dense infrastructural mosaic of standards, coded devices, data, discourses and techniques – all products of the technical expertise of programmers, data scientists, computational urbanists and their advocates, located in expert settings such as IBM as well as in government offices and civil society organizations – that will ultimately make educational institutions and processes more programmable and in that process shape the capacities and conduct of the people who move through them. Reconceived as data platforms, such schools are being positioned as responsible for educating the smart city by acting upon the competencies, conduct and even the cognition of its future citizens.

Second, new programs focusing on learning to code, data literacy and civic coding – such as those enacted by Nesta, Glasgow Future Makers and MK: Smart Urban Data School – are positioning young people as apprentice data experts and computational urbanists. By equipping young people with the relevant data literacies and coding skills, these smart city initiatives seek to encourage them to occupy the forms of conduct that are appropriate for participation in coded urban infrastructures, thus responsibilizing them as data analysts, digital makers and civic coders who will design the technologies that will enable the city, as a digital governor, to interact with its citizens and to learn about their activities and behaviours in real-time. It is in this sense that the process of educating the smart city has a double meaning: on the one hand, it involves educating people to become smart citizens who can contribute to the design of digital urban infrastructures and devices, and on the other, it also involves the use of such devices and infrastructures to enable the city itself to learn about all those individuals that inhabit it, and, as an increasingly sentient learning environment, to reshape itself around their forms of behaviour and action.

Photo: rawpixel.com

Programmable pedagogies are being prototyped in the classroom through the introduction of learning analytics and cognitive computing tutors. In addition, as young people, in particular, are encouraged to learn to code and become sufficiently data literate to create new digital interfaces to the city, they are becoming responsible for constructing new programmable pedagogies on behalf of the urban digital governor and in accordance with the global standards that regulate smart cities development itself. By making new civic apps and interfaces with city services, they become laboratory technicians of the smart city, enabling it to function optimally. The programmable pedagogies of smart schools extend beyond the classroom into the everyday public pedagogies of urban life, where digitally enacted big data systems constantly regulate and govern people’s conduct according to the standards and social codes of conduct that are written into the lines of code that constitute them. Citizens themselves are to play a part in the design of such systems as apprentice computational urbanists and in scripting the programmable pedagogies that will realize new forms of active computational conduct in smart cities.

Through such a technology of schooling, students are increasingly being positioned as data objects whose learning lives are to be tracked and monitored through their data points for the purposes of enacting behavioral modification techniques. The smart school is a laboratory for experimental forms of digital government where the sociotechnical imaginaries and expertise of computational urbanists and civic coders are to be projected from a distance into the city, both through monitoring young people’s data points and through educating them to become active and responsible citizens with appropriate skills to compute the future of the city. The task of governing the future city is partly to be achieved through computational experiments in schooling the smart city and its citizens.

 

Reference

[1] SMART CITIES: DIGITAL SOLUTIONS FOR A MORE LIVABLE FUTURE McKinsey Global Institute, June 2018

[2] Better World Solution

[3] Elizabeth Woyke: A smarter smart city. MIT Technology Review February 21, 2018

[4] https://www.oslo.kommune.no/english/politics-and-administration/smart-oslo/smart-oslo-strategy/

[5] Australian Smart Cities – How the IoT Will Change The World (https://whatphone.com.au/guide/australian-smart-cities)

[6] https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/abouttheCity/Pages/SmartCity.aspx

[7] The Government of India

[8] Smart City Africa

[9] Ben Williamson: Educating the smart city: Schooling smart citizens through computational urbanism. Sage Journals 2015

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Karl Skaar
Karl Skaar

Is a highly successful professional, with a high degree of entrepreneurial flair. Among the many different roles, he is the chief editor of the Lucubrate Magazine.

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