I used to think of movies like ‘Minority Report’ when envisioning what a smart city looked like. However, as cities cautiously approach their smart city objectives, a common theme is emerging. Sustainability and Resilience. This is the true meaning of a smart city. A city that provides residents with affordable running water and sanitation, reliable electricity, decent housing, transportation and gas. Unequal access to essential infrastructure reduces productivity, causes environmental and health issues and locks people into poverty for generations. So while AI, interconnected infrastructure and decentralized tech are all important and wonderful aspirations for cities looking to enhance quality of life and efficiency- cities around the world struggle to provide the basic needs for their residents. Let’s bring it down to the basics.
“During Covid-19, we have watched stark inequality spread in real time, making cities more unsustainable and the steps we recommend even more urgent”
The World Resources Institute (WRI) research lays out seven crucial transformations that aim to show how to reimagine urban services and create lasting change:
The seven transformations are:
1 Infrastructure design and delivery – prioritizing the vulnerable
2 Service provision models – partnering with alternative service providers
3 Data collection practices – improving local data through community engagement
4 Informal urban employment – recognizing and supporting informal workers
5 Financing and subsidies – increasing investment and targeting funds innovatively
6 Urban land management – promoting transparency and integrated spatial planning
7 Governance and institutions – creating diverse coalitions and alignment.
Every cities’ focus will differ and policies that are being put it place today are finally empowering local governments to pursue smart city initiatives that meet the specialized needs of their cities. The local and private sectors have the potential to change the landscape and quality of life in their cities more than ever before. The time is now.