Defining Smart City for Urban Planning

Smart City is a recent theory in urban planning that we are going to be hearing a lot more in the coming years. Smart Cities are not a theory for the future anymore. They are here, happening and growing quickly. We all know that by 2050, about 86 percent of people in developed countries and 64 percent of people in developing countries are expected to live in cities. That is why, we need to use our resources efficiently, be smart and live smart.

Being smart in today’s world is related to how much data you have and how well you covert it into knowledge. Large companies such as Cisco and IBM are working with universities and civic planning authorities to develop data-driven systems for transport, waste management, law enforcement, and energy use to make them more efficient and improve the lives of citizens. While Google takes big data to Smart Cities, IBM launched its Smarter Planet initiative, a broad program to investigate the application of sensors, networks and analytics to the most problematic and complicated urban issues in 2008. 

The question of how we plan cities to become smart cities or smarter cities has a tricky answer. The smart city starts with you, the people, the society. Smart cities can only be smart when and if their citizens are aware of the value of smartness and can find new ways to craft, connect and make sense of their own data. Smart cities will be defined by individual citizens that collaborate with each other to create solutions –apps, devices, etc.– for local problems.

The challenge is that not a lot of cities have clear ideas as to their specific future smart city requirements at the moment. Corporations and governments have a great role in making a city smart by –first of all– making data openly available, making it easy for citizens to create and contribute their own data and making policies and regulations to protect the rights of new possible ways of working, producing and sharing data, information and knowledge. Smart city projects can certainly support municipal governments operate more efficiently and improve quality of life for residents. 

Smart City is ”an effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens”. The collective intelligence of the city is the goal of a smart city but the way to accomplish the goal has many interrelated components: infrastructure, buildings, transportation, energy, health care, technology, governance, education and citizens. That is exactly why, becoming smart or smarter for cities requires a comprehensive, inclusive and strategic approach in urban planning. The dimensions go far beyond physical planning and/or design. It is a phenomenon that pays great attention to society that produces and manages technology, data and knowledge.

Smart cities currently have a very strong image around the world. Even in the third world countries, where they have other problems and fewer resources, people are willing to do something good for the planet and their quality of life. Not all cities can become a smart city, but all cities can go smarter…