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21 January 2015

The Purpose Of Smart Cities

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But in fact, what are Smart Cities for? 

I will begin with a sentence that gave me a better understanding of Smart Cities some time ago.

" (...) define smart cities as places where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects, and even our bodies to address social, economic, and environmental problems." Anthony M. Townsend.

In my opinion, it is crucial that residents understand the importance of Smart Cities in their lives, in everyday activities and the positive impact these can have. Only with perception of the importance of this new paradigm will it be possible to integrate citizens and communities in the eco-system of "intelligent things". The human being is the centre of the Smart City universe, that is, (without wanting to appear as a fan of Anthropocentrism), the Smart City universe has the purpose of solving problems created by man with solutions directed to benefiting him. Take a simple example. Smart Cities aim to solve environmental problems. Those problems were effectively created by man, through irresponsible behaviour and bad management of economic activities. The solution will also be something that benefits him, bearing in mind, naturally, that we cast doubt on our existence if we do not resolve these matters. I do not see it as raising man above all the other species on the planet, but rather calling for our very intelligence to be responsible, using it to repair the damage caused in the past and to lessen current problems such as population increase. 

Smart Cities are, or at least will have to be, much more than mere technological ostentation, where the giants of the computer industry distribute their sophisticated systems among towns, supported by millions of useful or fun applications. Smart Cities have (at least) 5 obligatory and urgent functions, which include: making towns more inhabitable, more efficient, more sustainable, healthier and better prepared to cope with change. And all that is not achieved just by introducing technology to towns. It is necessary to look on that technology as a powerful tool so that we can first of all understand the towns we live in, understand and define their needs not only today but also in 5, 10 or 20 years time. Then we can intervene in the field of town-planning and building and from there, create sustained solutions in the information networks formed. It is part of the town’s work to transform all the information acquired by all types of sensors and convert it into useful knowledge for its own management and for its inhabitants. 

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