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Smart city

What Makes up a Smart City?


These are the steps needed in order to count a city as a “Smart city.

Urban development faces a series of obstacles posed by the growing complexity of contemporary society. Building smarter cities then seems to be the only way to transform the urban landscape into a more functional, bor overall a more sustainable place to live in.

While the meaning of a “smart city” continues to be debated, Boyd Cohen has come up with an infographic called Smart City Wheel which, for its easy-to-follow quality has the potential to help inspire new projects for smart cities. His model was inspired by the work of a number of other designers, including the “Territorial Model” of Buenos Aires, the Green City Index of Siemens and the Center of Regional Science of the Vienna University of Technology.

In the center of the wheel are examples of intelligent cities, followed by another ring which is filled with ideas for smarter transportation, smarter government, smarter economy, environment, lifestyles and people. Then, the next circle measures the importance of the various issues in building smarter: health, transparency, green urban planning, productivity, alternative energy, priority to non-motorized transportation, social inclusiveness, etc. The last circle is an index that includes more than 100 variables to help cities and its inhabitants to develop urban projects based on this model.

Cohen points out three key steps for the design of such cities. The first is to get the people involved in the project. Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver, had that in mind when he developed his city plan by asking 30,000 criticizes to come up with goals to reach by 2020. His methodology consisted in bringing together the results of online forums, group discussions and workshops held at community centers.

The second step is to clearly delineate the objectives and choose appropriate ways to measure their development. The best example has been Copenhagen, Denmark which, since 1981 has developed a plan for alternative transportation. For years they have measured citizen’s use of bicycles. The city has the goal of getting at least 50% of the population to commute to work or school on bicycle.

Lastly, plans should always be made for both the short and long term in order to successfully leave the reign of the sterile asphalt jungle and take a step toward the radical transformation of transportation, government, economy, the environment, as well as our lifestyles and social relations. Mostly for its usability, this map represents a brilliant effort in this necessary path towards making our cities mora intelligent beings, and, like beings, more sensitive too.

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