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THE BRITISH EXPERTISE VIEW


SMART? T


THINK


COMMUNICATION IS KEY TO THE INTEGRATION TO DIGITAL, PHYSICAL AND HUMAN SYSTEMS IN CITIES, SAYS JOHN WHITTAKER, CHAIR OF BRITISH EXPERTISE SMART CITIES GROUP


he twenty first century will continue to see a staggering rise in the world’s urban population both through natural growth and through the gathering pace of migration


from rural areas in the emerging economies. Some commentators estimate that, currently, around half of the global population of seven billion plus live in cities; by 2050 this is forecast to grow to 80% of a much larger global population of over nine billion. At the same time, it has been calculated that we will need to build as much in the next 40 years as we have in the previous 400 years of human history. To handle this large-scale growth and urbanisation, we will need to find new ways to manage complex systems, increase efficiencies, reduce expenses, and improve the quality of life of citizens. Te expansion of many of the world’s fast growing


cities manifests itself in significant pressures on urban infrastructure and social stability- creating unsatisfactory living environments in slum settlements. In parallel with this mankind has ever- advancing technology at its disposal with which to better understand plan and manage urban areas. We also have fast-accumulating knowledge and experience in the management and governance of the complexities of metropolitan infrastructure and organisations; it is a new way of seeing and understanding the urban space we might term “smart city thinking”. So what defines smart city thinking? Is it the


8 EXPERTVIEW SPRING 2015


ability to apply state-of-the-art technology to drive greater efficiencies in the functioning of component parts of urban areas? Is it the expertise to finesse management issues through knowledge sharing and better use of available data? Is it the application of an equitable balance of social, economic and environmental considerations in the planning of future growth? In reality it is all of these things and more....BSI (PAS 180:2014) defines the term as denoting the effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens. And application of smart technology or thinking can be effective at different spatial levels- metering of individual homes and commercial premises on the one hand to Masterplanning entire metropolitan areas on the other. But always the opportunity should be taken to learn from sound experience and apply what has been shown to be successful in one location to other locations. Smart-city thinking is not all about high


technology, though. Of course that is one key strand in the digital age of the internet where the ability of electronic devices to communicate with one another can lead to some significant benefits to consumers and service managers. But low-tech can be equally smart- reversing the trend towards motorised transport by focusing greater emphasis on cycling and walking, with concomitant health benefits, is equally smart thinking. Master planning future cities to facilitate movement by pedestrians and cyclists is a clear manifestation of such thinking. What has driven the move to smart city thinking?


On the one hand it is the constant pressure on municipal budgets when faced with increasing expectations of local residents who, as they become more affluent, demand far higher standards of their urban environment and community services. Associated with this is the dominant environmental theme of the last decade- concern


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