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.
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.
Sustainable development seeks to meet current needs, without compromising those of the future generations. It is a concept that has always been linked to the environmental world but is also built on other areas like the economic and social ones. The design of these cities must assume this approach as a fundamental principle. In this way they will be prepared to face the imminent population growth, but they also need to combat the current problems of the Earth: the effects of climate change, air pollution, effective waste management or the adoption of a consumption model that can be efficient and responsible.
Most citizens spend a considerable amount of time going to work daily. These routes may also be lengthened due to problems with urban transport, parking availability, congestion during peak hours, traffic accidents or recurrent traffic jams. The automobile industry has been working for years on the design of a new mobility scheme that can overcome these problems: electric, connected and autonomous cars, alternative vehicles, shared models, etc. But this new vision also requires an effort in the development of infrastructures, the design of policies that effectively protect the environment, the investment in public transport and the adoption of an approach more focused on the user experience.
A "smart city" is expected to boast great technological integration, being innovation and creativity indisputable qualities. This development means high connectivity and a whole range of digital services. However, different specialists conclude that the weak point of these cities may be found in security, specifically, in cybersecurity. Of course, these cities have to be able to guarantee and protect their inhabitants effectively and work on the constant development of new security measures both on-line and off-line.
The CEU IAM Business School offers a Master´s Degree in Urban Planning and Development that accumulates more than two decades of experience in its full-time version and twelve promotions in its executive version. This training course is on the top 5 of Best Masters (in the category of Urban Planning, Construction and Building) carried out by the newspaper El Mundo. This is an excellent opportunity to progress in a sector with a growing labor demand and to do internships at first-rate companies. Ask for further information!