New Resource Implementation Holds Back The Development Of Smart Cities

With a global focus shift towards addressing some of pressing issues such as overcrowding, ageing populations and environmental degradation, many cities are turning towards “Smart Cities” as a solution. However, various initiatives across the world are struggling or have failed in the implementation due to overfocusing on technological approaches as opposed to practical solutions.

The Smart City is heavily associated with the Internet of Things, sensors, and big data, often projecting the impression that large new technological projects are the solutions to the problems that cities aim to solve. The “Redefining the Smart City: Culture, Metabolism and Governance” Journal Article refers to Smart Cities as being the subject of heavy investment and often with suppliers promoting a one-size-fits all model, which holds knock-on effects to broader economic development policies. These large-scale, un-customized models can lead to larger-scale issues instead of address the issues they were supposed to solve.

Various new Smart City initiatives around the world are focusing on the technological aspect of what the city can do rather than what it can solve. For example, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs have revealed detailed plans to build what could possibly be one of the most advanced smart cities in the world in Toronto’s Quayside district. However, with the detailed elements came a large criticism over the lack of attention to user privacy and other citizen focused elements. This highlighted that some of the key pillars within a city were being overlooked and the project could potentially cause a misdirection in future smart city projects to follow in this pattern.

The Pillars of a Smart City

Like many other governments around the world, the Japanese government is building a framework on what the ideal Smart City would look like with in their country. The foundation of this framework, referred to as Society 5.0, keeps a heavy focus on people as being the centre of their cities.

The smart city initiatives that they are focusing on are designed to be pillars of the society which supports the overall smart city project with a key focus of people in the centre. The realizing 5.0 document from Abenomics in Japan highlights that Healthcare, Mobility, Infrastructure, and FinTech will be the key pillars to their building of Smart Cities. Their approach, which is mirrored in countries like Australia, India, China, and Singapore, highlights that by supporting and enhancing the pillars of society, technology can support the growth of a smart city rather than hinder it through new resource implementation.

A People-Centric Solution

At the centre of a smart city is its people. This can be seen in the concern about the citizen’s privacy in the Sidewalk Labs project and in the society pillars supporting citizens in smart city solutions proposed in the Abenomics report. This humanisation of the smart city projects brings to light that the cities are by the people, for the people. As Glaeser writes in his best selling book Triumph of the City, “The single best way to create a smart city is to create schools that attract and retain able people.” Understanding this element is crucial to onboarding smart city projects and to assist in the development of new technology in the industry.

By keeping the citizens of the city as the key focal point, and by further developing and supporting the existing pillars of society, smart city initiatives stand a higher chance of success and impact.

Learn more about how large corporations can collaborate effectively with smaller, agile organisations to accelerate the development of sustainable buildings and communities.


Written by
May 9, 2020

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