While cities everywhere are seeking funds for Smarter City initiatives, and often relying on central government or research grants to do so, billions of Pounds, Euros, and Dollars are being spent on relatively conventional development and infrastructure projects that aren’t particularly “smart”.
Why is that?
One reason is that we have yet to turn our experience to date into prescriptive, re-usable guidance. Many examples of “Smarter City” projects have demonstrated that in principle technologies such as social media, information marketplaces and the “internet of things” can support city-level objectives such as wellbeing, social mobility, economic growth and infrastructure resilience. But these individual results do not yet constitute a normalised evidence base to indicate which approaches apply in which situations, and to predict in quantitative terms what the outcomes will be.
As a result, todays planning and procurement practises do not explicitly recognise the value of the Smart City vision, and therefore are not shaping the financial instruments to deliver it. This is not because those practises are at fault; it is because technologists, urbanists, architects, procurement officers, policy-makers and planners need to work together to evolve those practises to take account of the new possibilities available to cities through technology.
I recently put together a set of intentionally provocative candidate “design principles” for a city that is considering how their next planning strategy could reflect the impact of the technology agenda. They will not be universally accepted, and it is not possible yet to provide a mature body of evidence to support them. But by presenting active principles rather than passive observations, my hope is to stimulate a useful debate. I've posted them here:
I hope that you find them interesting and useful and would appreciate your comments and suggestions for improving them,