Smart city in context (1): Competitiveness (Part 3): the municipality

[Versión en castellano]

SmartCity TagsIn earlier posts, I presented my vision on how the smart city concept encourages competitiveness in businesses and citizens. In the present one, I will present how competitiveness is perceived and set up by the public administrators responsible for managing the city.

In general, these managers have a twofold goal with their management:

  1. Improving the current and future performance and quality of life of their city, and
  2. Doing so in such a way that their citizens perceive it in an absolutely clear way.

In this context, it is clear that a concept such as smart city comes in handy. And the associated competitiveness is clearly shown when we see that most municipal officials work to get theirs a smarter city than the others. And this is good, because it is a clear and viral incentive to improve the quality of life in all the cities.

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Smart city in context (1): Competitiveness (Part 2): citizens

[Versión en castellano]

SmartCity TagsIn principle, the smart city should be paradise for citizens. But so far, in practice, they have had little to do with its definition. In fact, most of them declare to ignore the meaning of this concept. However, it is also true that in the Smart City Expo & World Congress in Barcelona last November, it was possible to detect a stronger trend to include citizens opinions when developing this concept.

In any case, in line with previous articles on this blog, I think that there is a strong link between  the smart city concept and competitiveness from the citizens’ point of view yet. So, as a citizen I am also, the more I would like to live in a particular city, the smarter it is for me. And I think this is -or should be- the criteria to be used by those responsible for urban management when deciding to make theirs a smart city.

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Smart city in context (1). Competitiveness (part 1): ICT companies & service providers

[Versión en castellano]

Currently, cities are the basis of power in the world, the generation and management center of economic activity and the main source of problems and solutions of all kinds. The world population living in cities has recently overcome the level of 50%, and this share will continue growing. Cities are the focus for all social, economical and environmental issues.

This growing attention to the cities has its parallel in the smart city concept. On 2012/08/19 a search for smart city in www.google.es, gave 401 million results. Doing the same search on 2012/11/24, when only three months had passed, gave 810 million results …!

You can get a general idea about what a Smart city is in Wikipedia . In any case, as we saw in a previous articlesmart city is an elastic concept that extends to virtually all areas of urban activity. It is not still a well-defined concept and everyone can use it according to his personal criteria. But there is a general agreement on that it deals with the use of information and communications technology (hereinafter ICT) to improve the performance, sustainability, and quality of life in cities.

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Smart city in context (0): an introduction

[Versión en castellano]

The smart city event of the year took place in Barcelona on November 13 to 15. Now, ​​it seems to me right to devote a whole series of posts on smart cities on this blog. It is a key issue because cities are world-class centers of life, economy and power, and they are currently growing at a rapid pace.

Barcelona, November 2012

The complexity of the cities is also within the smart city concept, which has not yet achieved a broad and formal consensus on its real meaning. For that reason, this remarkable invention of the blog is especially suited to discuss the issue by allowing a wide and open participation. My intention here, therefore, is to talk about smart cities in successive posts and from different points of view. I invite every Internet surfer coming here to make his/her own contributions, whether he/she agrees or not with what I explain here, or just if he/she wants to give new or interesting nuances. All contributions are welcome.

In a previous article I explained that, in my opinion, the greatest effect that  the concept of smart city brings is competitiveness. This is the basic idea I will use as a leitmotiv to structure the series of posts. These will express my specific and personal view , obviously supplemented or contrasted with the comments submitted to this blog. The list of posts I’m thinking about is purely indicative and will be updated here when convenient. Currently, the list is:

  1. The competitiveness well understood: How the different players (TIC companies, urban services, urban managers, citizens, …) understand the competitiveness inside the smart city concept. What do they want and what do they expect from this concept.
  2. The communication appeal of the concept: Why everyone is now talking about smart cities, why this concept generates rivers of ink and events worldwide.
  3. The technological and the urban approaches: What is the smart city products offering, and what is the demand for them.
  4. Financial issues: What mechanisms and funding sources exist to fund a smart city project. What is the role that citizens and entrepreneurs can play in the making of smart city projects.
  5. The integrated urban services platform: What’s inside this concept, what are its advantages and how it can be implemented according to its different alternatives.

All these posts will not have an academic style. On the contrary, they will explain my vision obtained from interaction with different players in the smart cities world, and from specific projects in which I participated. They will also explain the strategy I derived from their analysis, and all of it from a practical approach standpoint.

Once again I invite all those concerned to make their own contributions, criticisms and comments.

Water management achievements & challenges in the smart city

[Versión en Castellano]

On November 14, I participated in the Smart Cities Expo & World Congress in Barcelona, ​​at the Environment plenary meeting, within the panel Challenges for a more sustainable city.

According to the session program, the topics were: Cities are major consumers of energy and natural resources. What is the step forward for city sustainability? What are the new ideas surrounding the reduction of emissions and resource consumption in cities? What is the future for waste and water management?

In summary, the key points I presented were: Read more of this post

On the smart city concept

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From 2011 the statistics show very clearly that there is a boom in the searches and in the number of news that Google publishes on Smart Cities in Spain.

Trends on smart cities in Spain. Source: Google trends, 19/8/12

The Smart City concept has always seemed very odd to me. Indeed, you can hear at conferences and seminars that it is not a well-defined one. Everyone uses it a bit according to his personal criteria. It is commonly assumed as dealing with the use of information and communications technologies, sustainability, quality of life in cities, etc. But everyone uses it at his will and according to his own interests. There are those who think that there should be a standardization, so that everybody could agree on a specific unique and universal meaning. Without neglecting the obvious advantages of standardization, it seems to me that in some contexts this lack of precise definition is one of the main advantages of the concept, as we will see below. Read more of this post