The objectives of Smart Cities initiatives often include efficiency, resilience, growth and vitality; and these are certainly characteristics that cities desire. But, though it is less frequently stated, a more fundamental objective underlies all of these: fairness.
I think the Smart Cities movement will only be viewed as a success by the wider world if it contributes to that objective.
In his landmark work, “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered“, the economist EF Schumacher wrote extensively about how fairness might be achieved through our efforts to encourage the world's development, and asked:
What is that we really require from the scientists and technologists? I should answer:
We need methods and equipment which are:
Cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually everyone;
Suitable for small-scale application; and
Compatible with man’s need for creativity"
I can’t think of a more powerful set of tools that reflect these characteristics than the digital technologies that have emerged over the past decade, such as social media, smartphones, Cloud computing and Open Data. They provide a digital infrastructure of "appropriate" technologies that are accessible to everyone, but that can connect with the large scale city infrastructures that support millions of urban lives; and they can give citizens, communities and businesses the ability to adapt city infrastructures to their own needs.
I've written an article about 12 such technologies that I think are particularly important; and that fall into the categories of “Infrastructures that matter”; “Technologies for everyone”; and “The keys to the city”. I hope you find it interesting.