Smart City or Smart Town?

Why not “Smart Towns” First?

It is not a bad aspiration, of course, to “smarten our cities”. However, a high proportion of presentations at Future City Conferences say what could happen rather than what is happening. This is great of course as it’s good to dream but ultimately there is a danger that excessive planning for our journey causes us to potentially stall the car before we even leave the driveway, or even worse still reverse over the cat!

Image of people rushing up and down stairs. The photographer blurred the image to show the movement.

Of course, we should dream of how our cities might look and function, but might we approach talk of this eventual transformation with cautious modesty? Perhaps, we might have more examples of real life success if we looked at “smart towns” or even “smart villages” as a first step?

Given the opportunity a “smart town” has numerous advantages, not least being cost. It would also give inhabitants the opportunity to engage on a personal level in a manageable programme of expansion. Similar initiatives in cities run the risk of larger losses and inhabitant apathy.

A view of Manhattan from space via NASA

A city is made up of so many constituent parts that it could run the risk of the solution becoming dehumanised. A village is an altogether more human environment where results can be more readily measured and people can be more actively engaged.

Ultimately, the only reason for making our cities “smarter” is to provide a more efficient standard of living for the people who live there. By testing this theory at a smaller level it allows for a structure to build on when implementing to large-scale smart city solutions. So why not a smart town first?


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