Antoine David de Beublain
Stanford Summer Program
“Smarter Cities and Communities”
What is a smart city?
What should it be?
What problems do smart cities solve?
What issue do you foresee with them?
I- What is a smart city? What should it be?
A “smart city” is a new concept, which developed itself during the past few years: Indeed, its very existence is directly linked to the emergence of new problems, caused mostly by urbanization, climate change or the need for supply. In the wake of the globalization, some new issues have in fact arisen. Urbanization means the increase in percentage of a population living in settlements, which could be classified as urban areas
Even though life conditions around the world continue to improve, it also implies some deep transformation, which humanity has to take into account.
When it comes to the past decade, we have entered an era of urbanization: in 2010, more that half of the global population was living in a city. In 2050, this number will rise up to 70%. Hence the idea that cities and their way of growing seem to be a key issue in the next years to come.
What we need to understand though is that a city can play many roles in the future of humanity. It can be explained by the fact that a city is not just buildings and areas. A city is a center that allows everything around to live in the most efficient way. A city is a political, social and economic center. It is supposed to deal with many features such as health care, supply (food, water, energy), communication and technologies of information (IT)…
All these features are connected more than once, and the good way of ruling a city is to keep them connected all the time. If you stop to rule them together, you might encounter some deep issues. That is why this new idea of “smart city” seems to be more and more important.
Smart cities are some kind of modern cities, capable of implanting new facilities about water, electricity, communication, gas, transport or simply buildings, which would all be connected together, so as to improve citizens’ well-being, while staying as efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.
By smart, we are supposed to understand several things.
To my mind the most important feature or a smart city, are: efficiency, eco-friendly, integrated and connected, economically vibrant and most of all sustainable.
The clear goal of a “smart city”, is to use all the investments possible, so as to fuel a sustainable growth, an economic development and a better quality of life. The way those investments are made should be wise and modern, that is way the best way of doing so would be some kind of participatory governance.
Smart means clever of course, because it is always primordial to think before acting. But the word “wise” explains also very well what a smart city can be: the development has to be for the best interest of the population, i.e. to be fair as much as possible. It also means sustainable, as we are currently living in a world, which cares about what the future of planet Earth is going to be. The majority no longer ignores ecology and climate change. Smart also means modern, as the idea of modernity embodies well the will of striving cities, which produce trade and wealth. With the emergence of the BRIC’s and other country, modernity remains a key feature. Modernity is directly linked to improvement, which is why, smart and modernity are so connected.
A smart city is supposed to deal with several domains: social, political, economic but the environmental one is the most crucial one to my mind. Because of the global warming, the world we are currently living in, is changing. And despite every effort displayed until now, no one seems to be able to predict precisely which aftermath humanity may face during the next twenty years.
A definition of sustainable design would be “the use of resources, including land and...
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