Smart Cities That Listen

The cities of the future should be "smart" -- equipped with data-collection tools and technologies to improve city functionality -- but being smart also means being a good listener, writes Saskia Sassen.
February 3, 2011, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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Smart cities of the future should also be able to listen to and respond to the needs of their citizens, writes Sassen.

"The word on the (everyday) street is that the smartest city of them all will be PlanIT Valley, under construction near Porto, Portugal, by Living PlanIT, founded by Steve Lewis, formerly of Microsoft. What makes PlanIT Valley different is that it is more about smart urbanism than smart systems. The concept is to build intelligent networks that combine diverse insertable and removable electronic services. In other words, the organizations charged with building and maintaining hardware and software systems can reconfigure them with reusable components as needs change. In this way, rather than allowing the technology to control the urban environment, the environment shapes the technology. With this "service-oriented architecture," one aim is to reduce the vast amount of waste in the design and construction industries by extending the lives of the design, the software, and the hardware beyond a single project.

The first phase of intelligent cities is exciting. The city becomes a living laboratory for smart urban technologies that can handle all the major systems a city requires: water, transport, security, garbage, green buildings, and clean energy."

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Published on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 in What Matters
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