Friday, November 7, 2014

Money Talks in Smart Cities

Smart Cities mean better facilities and high connectivity in daily lives. According to the European Commission, it is actually a way of “translating digital technologies into better public services for citizens, better use of resources and less impact on the environment”. 

Everything sounds very good so far since smart cities have a goal for providing better standards for people. But how will they reach these standards?

To be able to enjoy the facilities of a smart city, a person should have enough income to afford the technological tools through which he/she can reach these facilities. For instance, a person who wants to learn when the bus will arrive the bus stop that he is waiting at, should have a device (most probably a smart phone) that connects him to the transportation center. It is a fact the use of smart phones, mobile PCs and tablets is increasing each year. 

However we cannot overgeneralize these facts to every person in a city. Moreover, governments cannot structure their plans on over-generalizations and they should consider poor people as well as all the other citizens.  

Another important point is the energy supply. Technology is in the core of a smart city idea. It is very straightforward that you need energy to provide technological facilities. Bingo! We need money again! And we need more energy resources which may contradict with the idea of “better use of resources”. For example, the Modi government in India targets to develop 100 smart cities. But we are talking about a country which is the 4th biggest energy consumer in the world after China, USA and Russia and cannot even provide electricity to some of its citizens. How will it be possible to meet increasing energy need? Moreover, they are highly dependent on coal as an energy resource. Power Minister of the country aims to boost the sector with increasing the production but will it still be consistent with “less impact on the environment”?

Therefore, a city should achieve certain economic developments before making plans on being a smart city. In other words, making the city financially well off is a key to make it smart. 

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