A city´s smartness is rooted in the welfare of its communities.
Community development is an essential part of urban planning; this holds true not just in the structures that are built for work, stay and play but also in the initiatives that guide urban living.
Ideally, community welfare is a given when one thinks of future cities. However, this is why the humanitarian aspect is not covered in most discussions regarding the future of our cities. In fact, most of the discourse over smart cities almost entirely ignores the community angle; case in point being this definition: A smart city is an emerging conceptual view of a city that promotes the use of ICTs to engage with citizens to develop social and intellectual capital, to make better use of hard infrastructure (physical capital), and reduce usage of environmental capital and support smart growth (sustainable economic development).
The smart city agenda for most cities is no different in most cases. They conventionally cover the following points:
However, the true definition of smart in the urban context is often lost. In fact, the typical smart city proposition also poses a number of challenges that have not been addressed, such as:
Building a community-centered smart city
As Architect Sameep Padora rightly points out, ´The way cities have evolved, there already exists intelligence and smartness embedded into its evolution.´ Cities need to shift priorities and focus on´Smart Communities´ empowered by enabling citizens and social inclusion. These cities will support individual and communal pursuits and ensure community well-being than transforming into cascading markets for infrastructure, services and shelter. This community-centered model could include:
There are tremendous opportunities for politicians and government officials who can see past the buzz and the hype of ´smart cities´ to apply ICTs to support citizens as they use this technology to enable themselves and their communities, and in this, transform their cities from the bottom-up.