It is not unreasonable to say that the 21st century is the century of cities as their renewed prominence is becoming more and more evident.
As all the available data indicates, the world is undergoing an accelerated process of urbanization that makes cities the form of human coexistence par excellence. Therefore, urban development in is to be placed at the center of prospective and global political agendas.
Urban Development and Digital Transformation
Cities are the best explanation for the technological revolution we are living right now: the transition from the already well-known Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to the current Intelligent and Collaborative Technologies. The cities are the alchemical catalyst of the technological phenomena that make this trend of change possible:
- The massive accumulation of stored data of all the processes and actions carried out, the so-called Big Data;
- Great amounts of data freely available to everyone in order to generate initiatives and creative and novel developments, the so-called Open Data;
- Direct communication and interaction, in other words the interconnection, between different devices, the so-called M2M and the Internet of Things;
- The development of social networks facilitating active communication, citizen participation and collaboration.
New Technologies Paving the Way Towards Better Urban Development
The cities emerge as complex systems that have a brain of their own —an integrated digital platform— capable of processing all the information of what is happening in each of the service verticals: public lighting, waste collection, supply of water, interventions in public space, fluidity and traffic events, traffic lights, public transport network, security incidents and emergencies, air quality. All of the services are monitored and processed in order to offer efficient solutions or facilitate coming up with them.
In other words, we have come a long way from the cities being just the alchemical catalyst of technological advances, to them becoming a potential benefactor of the new solutions available. Application of intelligent and collaborative technologies to urban processes, which —interconnected and crossed— provide huge amounts of data that equip us with new information and practical solutions that were unimaginable just a short time ago, holds a huge potential for the future.
This technological potential also means significant cost savings by maximizing its efficiency. Moreover, its application in the energy saving practices allows to work on new municipal energy policies ranging from assessment and saving to intelligent distribution and cogeneration. Setting up a city model where the relationship with the environment, the reduction of the environmental footprint, the quality of life, sustainability as a global concept, responds to the development models.
At the same time, Open Data facilitates the processes of local innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship and self-employment, and the dynamics of participation and collective co-creation, through collaborative processes. Citizen participation and networks in turn propose a change of political paradigm by rethinking democracy in terms of greater participation, proximity and transparency.
Living Our Best Possible Future
In short, a world of smart cities, in which the “smart and collaborative new technologies” facilitate efficiency and make the best delivery of urban and social services possible, is an aim worth working for.
The concept of sustainable urban spaces, with an efficient use of the energy and its generation integrated in the urban development, the attention to the environmental aspects that have impact on people’s health, the development of healthy initiatives in the public space, and finally an open, transparent and collaborative city made by people are the guarantee of the future worth living for.
Reference: Santiago J. Castellà