The smart cities movement is championing the belief that technological innovation and civic cooperation can lead to greater quality of life and goodwill toward fellow citizens. It embodies grand aspirations for a better tomorrow.
The International Institute for Management Development (IMD), a business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, operates a World Competitiveness Center dedicated to compiling the latest and most relevant data to help countries and companies achieve future prosperity. The center ranked 102 cities around the world in its first edition of the Smart City Index for 2019 – focusing on how citizens view efforts to make their cities smart.
“[Smart cities] embed some of the highest hopes of mankind through the promise of harnessing technology for better lives and social harmony; for some, however, they could incarnate the fears of ‘controlled lives’ in some kind of panopticons governed by artificial intelligence and automated devices,” the study’s authors wrote.
The researchers wanted to go beyond technological development for its own sake and take into account more humane concerns. What good is urbanistic and architectural ambition if it doesn’t improve social harmony?
The Smart Cities Council, a network of companies promoting the concept, defines a smart city as “one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions.” Central to this mission is the Internet of Things: a system of interconnected computing devices that can collect and share data without human interaction. This could improve quality of life for citizens, reduce pollution, increase investment from international businesses, become more attractive to tourists and manage the costs of providing resources and services more efficiently.