During the coronavirus outbreak in Amsterdam, city leaders took steps to help citizens at risk of isolation due to lockdown measures. As part of the city's "Everyone Connected" project, an ecosystem comprised of local technologists and civil society groups cooperated to deliver refurbished laptops with Internet connectivity to low-income, elderly and other citizens with below-average digital access. This is an example of a local ecosystem responding to an urgent situation that threatened to exacerbate digital and social exclusion. Smart city ecosystems are vital in implementing sustainable solutions and responding to a crisis.
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Winning a smart city tender isn’t a matter of luck. It’s a matter of skilled planning, careful estimations, honest evaluations, a trustworthy relationship, and a solution that ultimately solves the city’s problem.
Government contracts are lucrative contracts, but they’re not easy to land. The competition can be fierce, and unless you’re armed with the proper knowledge, the right product, and a good strategy, your proposal will fall flat before the decision-makers have even had the time to look at it. It’s a sad reality, but it’s true.
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Climate change is a very clear and present danger. Though the term usually conjures up images of melting ice sheets and dying forests, our cities are also particularly vulnerable to it too.
Currently, 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. That percentage is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. Cities are already struggling to mitigate the problems caused by increased population density, and these problems are expected to intensify as other variables such as climate change and extreme weather take hold. To prepare for the future, cities must improve their climate change resilience in order to improve the quality of life of its citizens.
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As smart cities get smarter, citizens have begun to express concerns about the use of their data, and whether their privacy is being sacrificed for the benefit of big data.
Ever since the concept of a smart city first emerged, it has been clear that technological innovation, intelligent systems, and big data would be three key ingredients to a city’s success. While there’s no clear-cut definition of what a smart city is or has to include (see also our article Redefining the Smart City Concept: A New Smart City Definition), it has been universally acknowledged that the purpose of a smart city is to improve the lives of its residents.
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In 2012, Austrian author Marc Elsberg released his best-selling novel Blackout: Tomorrow Will Be Too Late. It’s a disaster thriller that focuses on cyber-terrorism. A group of disenfranchised hackers manipulates a network of European power stations, destabilizing the grid, and plunging Europe into chaos.
The loss of power is a catalyst that leads to a domino effect of disasters, from food shortages and the devaluation of money to nuclear catastrophes and societal collapse. Elsberg was praised for his meticulous research and realism. Of course, Blackout takes the dangers of a cyber-attack to the extreme, but it’s all within the bounds of possibility.
Though the events that take place in Blackout are a work of fiction, as more cities embrace inter-connectivity and smart technology, the threat of serious cyber-attacks on digital infrastructure is very real. In 2015, a cyber-attack compromised Ukraine’s power grid, compromising corporate date, denying the distribution of energy, disabling IT infrastructure, and destroying countless data files.
As cities get smarter, it begs the question: if a power station can be hacked, what else can be?
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According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund, over half of the planet’s population lives in cities. By the year 2030, it’s expected that around 5 billion people will live in urban hubs. As cities grow larger and have a greater impact on the environment, local governments will have to adapt to ensure that the needs of their citizens are being met.
Civic engagement is a key part of a city’s evolution. Input from citizens can help define the dynamic of a city. Unfortunately, citizen participation rates are lower than ever. In the past, cities could use town hall meetings and surveys to connect with their residents, but due to a number of reasons, modern governments aren’t connecting with their citizens like they used to. This can have numerous negative effects on a city, from an alienated population to the implementation of unpopular policies.
Because of this, it’s necessary for city governments to embrace new methods of inspiring citizen engagement.
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Urban public health is currently in the spotlight as city populations struggle to deal with the threat of COVID-19. As lockdown measures take their toll on urban communities, city dwellers have been forced to see their cities through new eyes, and the results have been worrying.
A study from the UN has found that 68% of the global population will be living in cities and metropolitan areas by 2050. However, many researchers believe that the stats will likely be far higher, and further estimates suggest that up to 90% of the planet’s population could be living in megacities within the next 30 years.
The current coronavirus pandemic has proven that cities will need to adapt if they want to nurture healthier, happier, and safer populations. Urban public health will need to evolve to cater for denser populations, and the potential hazards that go along with it.
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The term “smart city” has a different meaning for different people. For most, it conjures up a vision of a technologically-advanced metropolis, where citizens rely on smart gadgets to go about their daily lives. For others, the smart city concept describes government initiatives based on big data, technology and intelligent processes that improve the quality of life of a city’s residents. These aren’t incorrect definitions, they’re just two sides of a multi-faceted approach to urban development.
Technology and data are essential building blocks for creating a smart city. But it’s the city’s residents that can help enact the biggest changes. By introducing projects that focus on improving the lives of individuals and communities, smart cities can begin to grow on their own.
One of the most talked-about methods of transforming a city into a smarter city is by introducing 15-minute neighborhoods. More commonly known as a 15-minute city, or even a 20-minute city, these strategies focus on improving the lives of residents by making the city more accessible to everyone.
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Bob Bennett, the former Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) of Kansas City talked in our Smart City Leader Interview Series - while he still was the CIO of Kansas City - about the importance of smart cities and smart citizens. He emphasized the role of technology and the benefits for citizens.
Broadband Connectivity Innovation Smart City Public Private Partnership Smart Citizens Digital Inclusion Blockchain Future Cities Civic Participation CIO Infrastructure Smart City Initiatives Knowledge Sharing New Technologies Urban Infrastructure Smart Water Kansas City PPP Urban Data Platform Sensors Data Privacy
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Rob van Gijzel, the former Mayor of Eindhoven and current Chairman of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) Foundation in New York and National Ambassador for the Blockchain Cities Coalition speaks about the importance of smart cities and smart citizens.
Smart City Intelligent Community Forum Eindhoven Inclusivity Urban Innovation Blockchain Future Cities Regulation Sustainable Urban Development Smart City Initiatives New Technologies Rob van Gijzel Smart Society Humanize Data and Technology Smart City Strategies Socially Beneficial