New Economy

When does a city become smart?

Thomas Wagner
May 3, 2017 · 5 min read
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Chirine Etezadzadeh introduced her book “Smart City — Future City?” with the question “What do people expect when they move to a city?”. She explains that the motives are different but they have one element in common: access. She explains, that the main advantage of a city is to gain access: to jobs and a livelihood; access to the necessities of life like water, food, housing, health care services; access to infrastructure, information, knowledge, education and so on. The demand of this environment will raise in the future: Etezadzadeh quoted that “Today, over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion that the United Nations (U.N.) expects to increase to 66% in 2050”.

Everyone is talking about the rise of Smart Cities — but what does smart really mean? There are different definitions and opinions about what smart is and how a Smart City could look like. I think it is much more than a total digitalization of everything. I think technology will be an important enabler to follow the compass — but to what point do we want to go? There are a lot of problems we are facing today, which have to be solved in the future. First we have to create a mindset with a clear focus of the direction we want to head for.

One of those directions is offered by John Thackara in his book “How to thrive in the next economy?”. In the following I will give some key aspects from this but also other sources, which were important for me to create my mindset.

End of Growth

Decentralized

When it comes to self production, the book „The Switch: How Solar, Storage and New Tech Means Cheap Power for All“ by Chris Goodall rises the question „What if we all became power self producers?“. This would be one step into the direction of Off-Grid living.

The Concept „ReGen Villages“ of the Copenhagen based architecture Studio EFFEKT, shows a future concept of a self-sufficient village which structure is build around people. The concept goes away from living side-by-side to a joint community that can power and feed self-reliant families.

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ReGen Villages Concept by EFFEKT
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Helsinge Haveby— Village of Tomorrow. Concept and masterplan by EFFFEKT

Local

Circular

Refferd to Chirine Etezadzadeh, the question for a smart city could be “How can we create a more sustainable and comfortable access to all the resources we need in an urban environment?” The ecosystem of a city is really complex and every modification has implications in various ranges and areas. Those system changes took a lot of effort, but we have to tackle them if we want to reach the goal of a smarter city. The transformation will be an ongoing process with very very small steps and achievements. It also will be a paradigm shift — but every action, no matter how small, will direct us into a specific direction and will effect the whole. Therefor it is necessary to create a mindset with a clear focus in which direction we want to head and which kind of goals we want to achieve in the future.

Let’s get our hands dirty. We have enough time to talk about it later :-)

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

Thomas Wagner

Written by

Design, Research & Strategy | Service Experience Designer (MA) based in London | Currently Service & Interaction Designer @ Method London | wagnerthomas.org

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

Thomas Wagner

Written by

Design, Research & Strategy | Service Experience Designer (MA) based in London | Currently Service & Interaction Designer @ Method London | wagnerthomas.org

Global Design Futures

Thoughts about Global Design and Future Trends

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