What defines a Smart City?
June 24, 2020
Dr. Jonathan Reichental, former CIO of the City of Palo Alto and the Founder and CEO of Human Future, explores what is at the heart of the future of all cities.
To succeed at elevating the human condition for billions of people, cities need to adopt new ideas, new approaches, and new technologies for how they’re operated and delivered. That’s the definition of a smart city.
The smart city is about people; it’s about improving the quality of life for urban communities all over the world.
When developing a smart city, the focus isn’t just on exploring technology, although technology does play a large role. Neither do cities need to create a surveillance society or erode privacy in order to succeed. At their core, smart cities aren’t about sensors or algorithms or virtual town halls — they’re about a better future for humanity. After all, to quote Shakespeare, “What is the city but the people?”
“What is the city but the people?”
Earth is already a majority urban planet and it’s estimated that, by midcentury, 70 percent of all humans will live in an urban area. Put another way, our human future belongs to cities. Most people will spend their days living, working, and playing in a metropolis. If we want to enjoy career opportunities, clean air and water, efficient transportation, low-cost energy, safety, convenient city services, and inclusion while all the time saving the planet from a climate crisis, we have a lot of city work ahead of us.
The city is already the center of the human experience. It is the most complicated and successful of all inventions. Urban areas have lifted billions of people out of extreme poverty, and they continue to shape and define our future. The challenges ahead for cities aren’t trivial. Cities have come a long way, but they have a long way to go. Building better and smarter cities may be the biggest challenge that humanity now faces.
“If we want to enjoy career opportunities, clean air and water, efficient transportation, low-cost energy, safety, convenient city services, and inclusion while all the time saving the planet from a climate crisis, we have a lot of city work ahead of us.”
I wrote Smart Cities For Dummies as the definitive reference guide for anyone who has an interest in creating safer and more prosperous communities. It’s also for anyone who wants to understand the opportunities and challenges in the world’s cities. When I discovered that cities would be central to our human future, I was compelled to become a part of positive change. I’ve spent several years helping to build smarter communities and educate city leaders on almost every continent. The realization that done right, cities were capable of offering the best solutions for a better tomorrow was the moment my passion for cities emerged. This book is my attempt to share the city planning-and-development lessons and ideas...