This article is written as a brief excerpt of a recent article written by Dr. Seth Asare Okyere, development planner and Assistant Professor at the Division of Global Architecture, Osaka University for BIMCommunity.

With Smart City development, people and technology intertwine, reinforcing the complexity of contemporary urban society. In this context, smart cities, provide technological solutions to pertinent challenges in the urban environment, improving their quality of life, safety and sustainability. Smart technologies are therefore being deployed as solutions to drive economic prosperity and social wellbeing. Indeed, public transit systems, the automobile sector, energy, among others have proven the immeasurable benefit of smart technologies in improving quality of life in urban areas.

However, as with any implementation of technological solutions, the risk of alienating people exists. In many instances, during the planning of informational urbanism and smart city initiatives, cities may become reduced to figures, codes and programming language on a computer. People become secondary to this huge geographic space that can only attain meaning and relevance through people’s attachment, identity, sense of place, and feelings.

“As more people, buildings, utilities, energy and mobility are being driven by smart technologies in the making of the smart city, it is important to emphasize the centrality of the social dimension (the people). In simple terms, inspire people to be smart and integrate their smartness into the city environment.”

By welcoming engagement and collaboration, it is possible for people and institutions to assist in identifying problems, designing creative solutions and producing systems that can address urban issues. In this way, people will feel empowered and valued not only as end users but as creators of innovation as the smart city takes form. It goes without saying, that smart cities are for people and they must be at the center of it—interacting, exchanging, doing and ultimately innovating.

Read Dr. Seth Asare Okyere’s full article where he provides examples of initiatives that have provided platforms to exploit citizen ingenuity in addressing common social goals in the context of Smart City development.

Interested in getting involved in Smart City development? Find out about our Smart Cities Master’s Program.

About the Author

Dr. Seth Asare Okyere is a development planner and Assistant Professor at the Division of Global Architecture, Osaka University. He holds a PhD in Urban Engineering from Osaka University (Japan) and MSc in Urban Planning and Policy Design from the Politecnico di Milano (Italy). Seth is interested in collective practices for improving communities and neighborhoods as well action research towards the sustainable management of urban areas (especially developing countries).

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