Monday, 23 september 2019 | Redacción CEU
What technology touches is altered as the effect of a magic trick. All the areas of our life, whether economic, social or cultural, are experiencing a change to a greater or lesser extent. There is not a single industry branch that can demonstrate that technological advances do not affect its development. This transformation is also reflected in the spaces we inhabit, especially in the most populated ones. Many of the big cities are working hard so that this change results in practicality, an improvement in the quality of life, sustainability, etc. Immersed in this project, they call themselves “smart cities”. However, there are many challenges that must be overcome to honor that name. When can a city be proud to bear the name of "smart"? What principles should guide the development of these cities?
An UN study published last year claims that, in 2050, 68% of the world's population will live in cities. This is a substantial growth. When this analysis was published, this figure was 55% (4.5 billion people). This prediction is supported mainly by two aspects: the significant population growth (2.5 billion additional people will live in the next years in cities) and the displacement of the population from rural areas to cities. Another striking fact: there are 33 megacities (cities with more than 10 million inhabitants) in our planet. Although, according to this study, these cities will not be the ones to concentrate the urban population growth, but cities with less than one million inhabitants (especially in Africa and Asia).
These figures only prove the need to work on the design of cities that can mitigate the impact of this growth, as well as meet the needs of the inhabitants, solve the problems of cities and ensure their viability and sustainability. The UN report itself points out that, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is essential to understand how the urbanization process will develop in the coming years. In fact, the eleventh goal focuses on cities and communities, since its achievement depends on these being more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
The open fronts of the smart cities
Being aware of this, a city that aspires to become "smart" must necessarily work on the following areas:
A "smart city" ensures the well-being of its citizens and puts people at the center. This is a key aspect. Cities can be functional and innovative, but they also need to measure the level of quality of life of their inhabitants and always work to improve it, for example: taking into account the quality of the air they breathe or the water their inhabitants consume, their level of safety (accidents, crime, emergency plans,...), the accessibility that people with functional diversity have, the availability of spaces for leisure and enjoyment, what their social conditions are (employability, health, access to housing,...), etc. In short, a smart city is a city in which people would like to live, but that requires a great effort in the long term.