Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Smart Cities: The Solution To City Concerns?

“Smart cities may have the potential to address big city development pains said Professor Lily Kong from the Singapore Management University¬†as she delivered the annual Shirin Fozdar lecture. The lecture is named after a famous Singapore women’s rights activist.

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She reviewed the well known city growth story which already sees 82% of North America and 73% of Europe urbanised. This pace will increase in the so called developing world and by 2050, Africa’s urbanisation will have almost doubled and Asia’s will be up one third.

China’s city growth has been described as likely the biggest yearly migration of mammals across the world.

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But this growth has exacerbated the pressure on city services, and in a number of cities has led to worse living conditions on some measures.

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In response to this and for other reasons, many cities around the world have adopted what are generally called ‘smart city’ approaches. (One take on the origin of the term is here.)

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These generally combine some integration of technology and data analytics to improve city service delivery.

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Dr Kong outlined 5 areas where she felt smart city activity might deal to some of the downsides of our expanding urbanisation.

She focused on a trial of “smart” devices showing specific benefits to a group of seniors.

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Focusing on the benefits of this new tech to people doesn’t happen enough in smart city discussions. Truly liveable cities are about much more than the benefits of smart tech. This is a theme that I will come back to.


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