Digital technology is changing everything: infrastructure is changing; the relations between local authorities and citizens are changing; services are changing; the city is changing. More than a revolution, "digital technology is a civilization".
Although poorly defined, the smart city has become the new frontier for urban planning for one simple reason: combining their respective power, connectivity and big data are exponentially growing the universe of the possible. Over the years, they have been put to use to improve transportation in congested cities, public health by monitoring atmospheric pollution, resilience to natural catastrophes and management of municipal waste, to name just these.
"By opening up unprecedented prospects to the city, the digital economy is radically changing the relationship between local authorities and their citizens, and so the modes of urban governance".
The city, as geographer Guy Burgel described, is a "total phenomenon". It is a political, economic and social space where all dimensions of human activity intermingle: production, consumption, work, as well as citizen engagement and entertainment.
From the city as a "tool" to the city as a "fun place" and to the political city, the city is a way of life. Cities are multifaceted bu the urban phenomenon has something unique as well. Urban civilization, and the relations between the citizens that it implies, in a way transcends the diversity of urban spheres.
At the same time, and like a mirror effect, information and communication technologies are equally transverse technologies: digital technology is revolutionizing the way we consume, produce and work, together with our social ties and our private relationships with others.
► Empowerment, legitimacy and social impact
Smart cities and technologies: connected or disconnected citizens?
In his book The World Beyond your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction, Matthew Crawford describes attention as a cultural problem of modern life. Individuals, notably urban dwellers, experience every day the fragmentation of their attention as everything is done to colonise our mental spaces by advertising. In this interview, Matthew Crawford gives details on this phenomenon that precedes Smart Cities but could be amplified by new technologies.
Keywords: Age of distraction, advertising, captive audience, public good, digital technologies
Themes: Fragmentation of attention and advertizing
The political and legal consequences of smart cities
Not only public services but also the citizens quality of life can now be improved through the use of data. Using concrete examples (transport, smart meters, etc.), Edouard Geffray discusses in an interview the criteria needed to ensure a fair balance between data protection and freedom of the individual, on the one hand and innovation on the other. Jean-Bernard Auby then foscuses on detailing the legal consequences around the emergence of smart cities.
Keywords: Freedom of the individual, data protection, public services
Themes: Political and legal consequences of smart cities
Smart Cities and New Forms of Employment
The development of smart cities is fostering a rapid rise in on-demand work through digital platforms (Uber, Helping, Deliveroo, etc.). Most initiatives around these new types of employment occur in urban environments, mainly because these platforms operate all the better the higher the population density. To improve understanding of this phenomenon, the article shares the results of qualitative studies conducted with service providers registered on various types of platforms and discusses an example of a citywide initiative, Lulu Dans Ma Rue, which has been designed to use new technology to recreate local economic activity.
Keywords: Collaborative economy, digital platforms, employment crisis
Themes: Use of new technology to recreate local economic activity
► A Holistic Approach To Smart Cities: Articulating Technology And Citizen Engagement
Urban Environmental Monitoring (UEM): A Demonstration Project Pooling Corporate Expertise For Smarter Cities Implemented In Nice Plaine Du Var
This article presents the Urban Environmental Monitoring demonstration project, developed jointly by the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Authority, Veolia, Orange, m2oCity and IBM since 2012. Exploring new ways of combining new technologies and social sciences, the project seeks to exploit a broad range of data to offer new urban services, designed to make the city of tomorrow more attractive, sustainable and competitive.
Keywords: urban monitoring, public-private partnership, urban services, quality of life, behavioral change
Themes: use of data to improve urban services
FabLab Lisboa: when a Municipality Fosters Grassroots, Technological and Collaborative Innovation
This article presents the strategy developed by the municipality of Lisbon to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, as a response to the 2008 economic crisis. The article specifically focuses on the implementation of FabLab Lisboa, a unique space where anyone can come to develop its own project, using state-of-the-art technology and collaborating with other "makers". By empowering citizens and fostering innovation, FabLabs appear as a key lever to make our cities smarter and anticipate future challenges.
Keywords: FabLabs, innovation, municipality, access to technology, citizen empowerment, smart cities, entrepreneurship
Ushahidi: Empowering Citizens Through Crowdsourcing And Digital Data Collection
Created in 2007, Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili, is both the name of a Kenyan not-for-profit civic tech company and of a crowdsourcing platform allowing to submit violence reports and map the events. In this Interview, Juliana Rotich, co-founder and former Executive Director of Ushahidi, introduces the Ushahidi technology and the next challenges to face, notably in the context of African smart cities.
Keywords: Crowdsourcing, civic technology, african smart cities
Themes: Citizen empowerment through crowdsourcing
Informal 2.0: Seeing And Improving Urban Informal Practices Through Digital Technologies, The Digital Matatus Case In Nairobi
While most cities develop sophisticated IT projects to make their organization smarter, the Digital Matatus case suggests the value of a much more modest and bottom-up approach: it encourages reliance on common technologies like cellphones to understand and improve existing urban services - that often involve informality - in emerging countries. By developing the first-ever high quality data set and map of the Matatu Network (very common semi-informal mini-buses in Kenya), the projects promotes a new, low-cost and more practical vision of smart and transit-oriented cities.
Keywords: transportation, informal sector, digital technologies, transit-oriented cities, bottom-up approach
Themes: Urban informal practices
Reinventing Local Food Supply In Connected Cities: The example of The Food Assembly
The Food Assembly (La Ruche Qui Dit Oui! in French) is a social and collaborative enterprise created following a two-fold observation: crop and livestock farmers face financial difficulties while end-consumers aspire to new modes of consumption. By leveraging new technology and a decentralized physical network, The Food Assembly aims to encourage the scale-up of short food supply chains. So far, this initiative has met with considerable success, especially in cities. This article looks back at the key factors underpinning the success of this initiative and the way in which digital technology can lead to reinventing food supply in connected cities.
Keywords: Short food supply chains, digital platforms, local consumption, social ties
Themes: Local Food Supply Chains
IBM - Building Sustainable Cities Through Partnerships and integrated approaches
In this article, Philippe Sajhau first proposes to redefine the smart city in order to understand better the issues it faces, namely, growing urbanisation and the need to adopt more sustainable development. For the author, technology remains the means for this approach and not the end in itself. In addition to the aim of reconnecting with more sustainable development, other advantages from acting in short term should encourage elected representatives and local authorities to invest in this area: regional economic growth, economic savings for the community, and the tangible benefits for the city's residents (improved transport, energy consumption, quality of life, etc.). Within this context, IBM's role is to support smart city projects by working closely with industrial partners and service operators, in France and abroad, and to provide its expertise in data collection, analysis and intelligence.
Keywords: Connected city, urbanisation, sustainable development, big data, analytics, cognitive computing, data collection
Themes: Big Data for sustainable cities
Polisdigitocracy: Citizen Engagement for Climate Action Through Digital Technologies
The article documents some of the actions currently undertaken by cities across the world to fight climate change by engaging citizens through the use of digital technologies, based on an extensive survey conducted by C40 and Arup in 2015. In addition to being a strategy employed to fight climate change, the authors note examples of cities engaging citizens in the design and implementation of their "smart" or "digital" strategies more broadly. The article goes into the concept of "polisdigitocracy", a term first coined by the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, in 2013, that refers to a new form of governance in which the digital technologies can help to renew citizen engagement while enabling cities to tackle climate change and address other urban challenges more efficiently.
Keywords: Polisdigitocracy, digital technologies, climate change, democracy, citizens' participation
Themes: Citizen Engagement
Smart Cities And Sharing Cities: How To Foster Collaborative Local Public Services
At a time when traditional public service is struggling for financial, social and even political reasons, public-service co-production by governments and citizens seems poised to emerge as an aternative model for public administration. The advent of new technologies and the population density inherent in cities seem likely to pave the way for new participatory public services. Elizabeth Lulin provides real-life examples of community-based websites and applications to shed light on the concept underlying "Public Service 2.0".
Keywords: Public Service 2.0, Sharing Economy, Platform, Local Communities
Themes: Local Public Services
Barcelona's Smart City Vision: An opportunity For Transformation
Based on Josep-Ramon Ferrer's experience as director of Barcelona's Smart City Program, the article details the ten key factors of success that are essential to successfully transform cities into smart cities. The article underlines the unique opportunity that new technologies represent for cities to embark on a more sustainable path, by engaging citizens.
Keywords: Barcelona, Information Revolution, Transformation, Governance, citizens
Themes: Smart city and public engagement