What makes a city smart?

 This blog is a 2 minute read...

This blog is a 2 minute read...

As I used my contactless debit card to enter the London Underground, I thought, how convenient and seamless - am I in a smart city?

By 2050 two thirds of global population will live in cities, they are the ecosystems that shape our lives. Trends like population growth, resource scarcity and climate change will bring challenges to our cities, as well as lots of opportunities for innovation to improve our lifestyles.

The way we interact with, and in, our built environment is unquestionably getting easier in lots of ways. Drive-through coffee, apps to plan journeys, pay for parking and access services, contactless payment, wireless charging.

Does this make our cities smart? Convenient, but not necessarily smart in my book. Convenience by itself is missing something. Especially when it enables behaviours which exacerbate social and environmental challenges, like linear consumption, inefficient use of energy, and polluting travel.

A smart city should enable better lives for people tomorrow, protecting the environment through innovative business models which also create societal wellbeing and economic growth today. A city should seamlessly make the sustainable option the convenient one - thats smart.

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Buckminster Fuller said it best..."you never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete".

Thats the role, and opportunity, for smart cities. Make our old unsustainable lifestyles obsolete. Use technology, trends, new business models, and data, to create innovative and sustainable ways of doing things that are just better anyway.

Integrate how we access mobility, energy, and use infrastructure, in a sustainable way which enhances our lifestyles and creates new industries, jobs and communities.

I want all coffee to be served in reusable cups, and contactless payment tech to put money back onto my card for deposit return schemes. I want new shopping centres to have a great public transport hub, instead of massive multi-storey carparks.

New houses should be built with solar PV, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging points as standard, and sat nav's should show you the most efficient route as an option, not just the fastest.

Lets start thinking smart and sustainable...the possibilities are endless. Moreover, they could just be plain better than what we're used to!


This blog is intended to share opinion for informational purposes only, not to provide advice or represent any organisation. Facts and figures are accurate to the best of my knowledge but should not be relied upon.