Under the pressure of overpopulation, community core-cities search for new methods to keep things under control. A digitalized city embraces technology, IoT systems, connectivity and builds a smart network that gathers and changes data to overcome the challenges raised by the urban environment. This gradually builds the necessary channels to integrate other cities and eventually, create smart territories. Also, the impact of COVID-19 in communities has brought to light serious problems regarding unequal living conditions. As a consequence, Antonio Gutteres, general-secretary of The United Nations, highlighted the need to create “equal, inclusive, and sustainable economies” in The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020.
Smart Cities around the world
In November 2014 Singapore announced its smart city program, naming it Smart Nation. That soon transformed the city into a magnet for urban planners, technology people, IT outsourcing companies, entrepreneurs around the globe. The initiative encourages sustainability and livability through digitalization and the use of technology. The newly adopted policies supported innovation in both the public and private sectors in order to help all levels of the community to benefit from the creation of new technologies. Singapore is also the first city in the world to launch a system of the driverless taxi.
The Institute for Management Development has release 2020’s Top Smart Cities in the world and for the second year, Singapore claimed the first place, followed by Helsinki and Zurich. The ranking is made after the cities’ inhabitants’ perception of life quality, as well as economic conditions and technology use.
The survey was based on questioning citizens from 109 countries about healthcare and safety, mobility, activities, governance, and opportunities. The analysis also implied aspects regarding pandemic management, and most of the top smart cities that are handling it well are more tech oriented. On the other hand, top cities from previous years have dropped in charts like Vienna or Prague, which seem to be more affected by the Coronavirus.
Next level: Smart Territory
Although, the Smart Territory concept naturally emerges as a complementary factor for smart cities, paradoxically, its purpose is to break the bubble. The digital transformation of only certain cities can create development gaps in the territory. It’s no secret that rural areas usually benefit from services and capabilities much later than urban areas. Of course, in many cases, the process is normal, due to the business conglomerate in big cities and the multiple opportunities that people can have here. Nevertheless, the bigger plan implies expanding the knowledge and benefits of smart cities to larger territories.
Strategy is vital
Changing cross-territory policies and entering small communities where life is often preserved with particularities is a challenge. That’s why governments and local authorities need strategic projects that target entire regions. As well as smart cities, a smart territory should also take into consideration all aspects that unfold around a community: environment, infrastructure, education, healthcare system, safety, communication. But most important, how to connect them to the urban systems.
Furthermore, the strategies rely on innovative methods and often mix urban concepts with traditional values. While trying to raise life standards also keeps the benefits of a simplified life through greener and sustainable options for mobility, energy and other factors. A bioclimatic architecture that integrates the old and the new. The sustainable principles also stand – waste recycling, preserving resources, reducing energy consumption.
Considering the fact that digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation are practically, the stages that mark the evolution of a city to a smart city, and later on entire smart territories, there are a few simple yet arduous procedures that can set things in motion:
- Digitizing population data and archives, to avoid useless bureaucracy
- Building infrastructure to ease mobility and connection with urban areas
- Integrating and connecting local healthcare systems to the urban ones
- Borrowing innovative ideas already implemented in urban areas
- Building a local administrative system that is connected to the central one but which also permits local ownership
Smart city, Smart Territory, Smart Future
The standardization, as we can call it, of cities, territories and entire counties can lead to a smart future in all aspects. The main objectives are evolution, equal opportunities, and the same life quality for people across all territories. In the global context of a pandemic, all the ignored factors and problems that use to be postponed from resolution have surfaced and could not be put aside anymore. At the same time, the pressure of an unpredictable phenomenon has pushed technology beyond imagination. And as we could see, it’s the main engine for putting communities in motion towards a better and more sustainable life. Embracing it is key.