SMART CITY (II): Philosophy change

After our first article about Smart Cities, now it’s the time to deepen our understanding on this topic. As we already mentioned, Smart Cities have a lot to do with ICT. In fact, Telefonica (one of the biggest ICT Companies all over the world) is developing new systems specifically for this area. In his Public Policy Blog it is posible to find many posts about ICT & Smart Cities.

Actually, it has been demonstrated that ICT has helped to improve cities management. Just to point out two examples: IBM is proud to say that they have increased the leak detection in Dubuque (Iowa), saving thousands of water liters, while Schneider electric has reduced traffic in Mumbai by 12%. Everything thanks to ICT implementation.

Nevertheless, smart cities are much more than that. It is not only about new technologies, they imply a change in philosophy. At some point, you could even say it also consists on going back to our roots.

For instance, Cheonggyecheon is the name of a project about a freeway removal in Seoul. It has been reported as a success in quality public space creation and traffic reduction even though it is in Seoul’s central business district. Can cities really get rid of some of their main streets to improve inhabitants quality-of-life and become more eco-friendly? This project has demonstrated that YES, they can.

Smart cityIt is a huge change, but it is really worthy. Of course, it is not a single decision. To be able to take it, the city council has to improve public transportation, create bike lanes and redirect some of that traffic to other avenues and streets, but it is still possible. This project is monitored by the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) along with many others that you can see in this site. Moreover, architecture is another field that should be rethought. IDOM, an engineering Spanish company, is leading this way and exposes bright ideas in its blog.

One of its architects, Jorge Martínez, wrote in this blog:

We have come through a long period of continued decontextualisation of cities and architecture, especially in what historians call the oil interval, where increased uncertainty and greater efforts confronting climatic conditions required enormous amounts of energy. The moment seems to have come for greater society awareness of the limitations of natural resources and the need to be less aggressive with the planet by way of a more sustainable lifestyle”.

He defends coming back to the origins of architecture, when shelter had to be suited to the surrounding environment, minimizing the need of resources and using materials in the smartest way.

All these examples show that smart cities are also about a mentality change, a new philosophy for our cities. Should we use the newest technologies? YES. But shouldn’t we rethink our way of life?

Dario Moreno

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