Last edited 27 Feb 2013

How to design a smart city


Over half the planet's population now lives in cities. This figure is predicted to rise to more than 70% by the second half of the century.

Cities are becoming our economic powerhouses; competing to attract global businesses, skilled employees and eager consumers. The basis of this competition is broad and includes: access to education and jobs, personal safety and security, effective healthcare, efficient transport, an attractive physical environment and vibrant communities.

However, whilst densely populated cities should be more sustainable than less concentrated rural settlements, they actually account for more than 75% of the consumption of non-renewable resources, and create around 75% of global pollution. With climate change threatening many cities through rising sea levels, increasingly volatile weather patterns and diminishing resources, the governments of both developed and developing countries face the demand not only for improved social conditions and better economic prospects, but also, greater resilience and more environmentally-sound city forms.

If we collaborate, and view these challenges as opportunities, smart city solutions may offer us a way forward. Smart cities not only optimise the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings, they also consider governance and growth, urban development and infrastructure, the environment and natural resources, society and community.

Creating smart cities is a complex, long-term process, and its success depends on a sustained commitment to a clear course of action. Smart cities require a genuinely integrated, multi-disciplinary approach. Design teams must operate across the complete project lifecycle, from assessing the physical opportunities and constraints and considering the viability of options, to working with planners and developers to design and build the best solutions.

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