We have learned how to enact civic budgets, discovered the benefits of bike and scooter sharing systems, became aware that billboards covering buildings do not necessary create a aesthetic public spaces, and we start to understand how cars are damaging our cities. All these elements, important for the good organization of the city’s functioning, begin to come together and form a coherent system. A system that requires adequate management, and therefore planning, organization and control.
It is a difficult task, because modern cities are complex, multilayer organisms and their management requires interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. An important element of changes in the scope of increasing the effectiveness of the functioning of a modern city is the way it is organized.
What shaped today’s cities was not the urge to create sole infrastructure – cities were created as communities and tools to fulfill basic social and economic needs. That is why a city is not just a laid out network of roads and buildings – it is also systems within buildings, systems build into household appliances, systems of transportation, power grid, payments, water supply, sewerage, and security. Underneath the radar, often unnoticed, the city is functioning, pulsing every day in sync with our lives – thanks to growing, intertwined mechanical, electronic and transportation connections.
City uses available technology which facilitates everyday life. We live in a space entwined with an invisible system of connections, full of smartphones and computers. Time in these cities flows incomparably faster than ever before in history, and functioning in them forces us to be fast and mobile as well. We use new technologies to control and manage our finances, payments and purchases. We become open-minded and crave for new products.
In search of the ideal
The first concept of an intelligent city did not fully work out. The smart cities of the first generation were created by implementing disjointed solutions by technological corporations. The residents were treated only as users of city systems, and their input was omitted during the creation phase. The city is rather a playground for business entities and a space to be treated in technocratic way. Most of those hubs are partly alive only on idyllic computer graphs. It seems that the future and development path of intelligent cities must be an organic development – an evolution of existing urban areas. Building from scratch enclosed regions in unnatural and artificial.
The second generation of intelligent cities is being built by city officials, municipal elites. They take responsibility for the process, for raising funds, they create programs and projects, use their own experts and back office. Local authorities initiate using modern technologies as a remedy to identified local issues. Technologies’ purpose is to improve quality of life of the residents and are used in more conscious and selective way. Most of the cities implementing smart city projects today belong to the second generation, characterized by the mass inclusion of the city tissue into the Internet of Things: intelligent sensors, meters, drivers are used to improved management of the city. The disadvantage pointed out by critics of smart cities is excessive technocratism, as citizens are relegated to the background in them.
Intelligent cities of the third generation maturely implement the idea based on the initiative of all stakeholders: local authorities, technology companies and citizens. The inhabitants have a large impact on a given region and its development, which will ultimately translate into a higher standard of living and faster innovation. This is a city that uses information and communication technologies not only to increase the interactivity and efficiency of urban infrastructure and its individual components (communication, services, etc.), but also to make residents aware of it. In this context, the most important thing is not the use of technology itself – a city can be considered “smart” when it invests in human and social capital and communication infrastructure in order to actively promote sustainable economic development and high quality of life, including wise resource management, also through civic participation.
Smart city of a new era combines the achievements of its predecessors. It is a “green” city – respects the formula of sustainable development. It is a developing ecosystem in which technological solutions help in dialogue with residents, optimize urban infrastructure, and significantly improve the quality of life of residents. The implemented solutions are always the result of the dialogue between the resident and the city, and they evolve with the development of needs and new technological possibilities.
Cooperation as a key to success
Smart city is created by smart residents. Residents who want and can make use of modern technologies. City’s residents are those who in reality build an information society. Information is more valuable than material goods. We are ready and we are able to employ modern information and communication technologies. Smart city will only function if its main component – people – will become a part of its ecosystem. If they will engage, create and interfere with the environment they live in. A futuristic vision of a city is no traffic, bus stops serving delicious, free-trade coffee, quick and easy payment for services and recreation.
In reality, the concept of smart cities should relate to the actual needs of a given agglomeration and bring measurable effects, for example: savings (of time, of many, of workload), faster economic growth, improving the quality of life of the residents. What allows to make the vision of a smart city come true? Searching for answer to this question leads us towards both the residents and the modern technology – modern computing possibilities, cloud computing, possibilities of precise geolocation provide the foundations and create new conditions for the development of smart cities. Technology is probably one of the key investments and the basis for infrastructure of a smart city. It allows for smooth operation and is applicable to all urban processes. Technologies are more and more often the basis of changes taking place in urban areas – thanks to their use, the designed information exchange system allows for the effective exchange of information about the city’s resources, and its subsequent processing. The use of such solutions brings savings and allows for process optimization. Examples of such solutions are: remote reading of energy, water and gas meters, remote control of city lighting depending on the time of day and traffic observed in real time, remote management of city transport. Therefore, we can look for the city’s intelligence in energy, tourism, transport, municipal economy, and administration – these are the areas where the optimization and application of the smart city concept will bring real benefits.
The key effectiveness element of abovementioned project is, however, the cooperation of cooperation of city authorities, residents and suppliers of technological solutions. It seems that this is the only chance to implement the development plans of our cities and agglomerations. It is also a skillful, professional adjustment of technological innovations to the needs of a modern city, as well as the needs generated by its inhabitants.