Avatar of admin


There's a Much Smarter Way for Cities to Plan Their Futures

February 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Valerie Vande Panne, AlterNet

Social impact, not technology, is a better way to measure a smart city.

U.S. cities, it seems, sometimes are setting themselves up for decay, with big tax giveaways, ever-rising prices and systems that put the bulk of the tax burden on the poor.

Often, when the discussion turns to improving a city, the catchphrase is “sustainable”—sounds good, right? But according to smart-city thought leader Talal Abu Ghazaleh, we’ve been looking at cities all wrong.

The city, he asserts, is a “living animal,” and rather than look at job creation or technology, it’s more important to concentrate on social impact.

“A smart city cannot be for the citizens if it doesn’t serve its human purposes. You can have the best technology, the best cleanliness, best roads, best everything, but if it doesn’t take into consideration my comfort as a human being, it is not smart,” he told NextCity, a nonprofit that reports on urban innovations. “Smartness is defined by its level of impact on the citizen and not on the level of the technology.” 

Often cities look at growth rates or traditional economic indicators, Abu Ghazaleh explains. But what’s missing in those plans that make the numbers move is the human aspect. Abu Ghazaleh says a “social impact indicator” would give a more accurate indication of the “status of the state of affairs of the impact on society, just like we have the economic and financial indicators that are very visible, very much watched, and very much announced.”

At the same time, many cities, in favor of business models that can move those traditional indicators, have “discounted their local business community and local economic development,” says Olivia LaVecchia, research associate at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). “Some cities haven’t realized how important [local small businesses] are for an economically resilient city” and continue to put their eggs into the baskets of massive corporations, like GE or Amazon.

ISLR approaches cities more as nation-state communities, says Christopher Mitchell, director of community broadband networks at ISLR. They help cities “do their best with what …read more


Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.