Smart City: Future Urbanism
The smart city concept is becoming increasingly widespread in both scientific literature and social media and covers a broad range of urban phenomena. This topic is particularly relevant because of increasing urbanisation. Kitchin (2014) provides two basic approaches to the vision of the smart city. One of them implies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) along with entrepreneurship and creativity to promote an urban economy. The second approach assumes an extensive introduction of technologies into the fabric of cities to improve the efficiency of urban management. Other researchers also emphasise the close relationship between the idea of a smart city and the use of ICT. Nonetheless, the content and potential of this concept are not limited to technological development exclusively. This paper explores and analyses the innovative aspects of a smart city, including both technological advantages and peculiarities of social, environmental and economic spheres.
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Smart Technologies: Internet of Things, Smart Buildings and Mobility
Digital and information technologies are already beginning to play a crucial role in the social, administrative and public processes of modern megalopolises and cities. These include but are not limited to social media, artificial intelligence, web commerce, online education and digital government. According to numerous estimates, the integration of technological innovations into the daily routine of urban systems will continue to increase (Albino, Berardi & Dangelico 2015; Plageras et al. 2018; Silva, Khan & Han 2018). This is particularly relevant to the Internet of Things (IoT), which has “resulted from the evolution of conventional networks that connect zillions of connected devices” (Silva, Khan & Han 2018, p. 697). According to Mehmood et al. (2017), IoT is a modern communication paradigm that is designed to create an Internet environment for connecting multiple digital devices online. The application of this development is intended to stimulate a series of innovative shifts in the urban setting.
This is primarily concerned with smart infrastructure and buildings, which imply an inseparable connection with ICT. Researchers state that the future infrastructure will consist of two layers: physical and digital, which is supposed to make it smart. (Mohanty, Choppali & Kougianos 2016). The ICT will enable the simultaneous data collection and management of multiple urban systems, ranging from water and energy supply and transport hubs to hospitals, government departments, business centers and educational institutions. A substantial part of the infrastructure components of the urban environment will be represented in the digital space, and thus the city will have its digital duplicate.
The IoT will enable this duplicate to be used for practical purposes. Mehmood et al. (2017) categorise IoT-based smart city applications into “personal and home, utilities, mobile, and enterprises” (p. 16). The first group refers to the management of smart home devices, electronic health care, through which physicians will be able to monitor the patient’s condition remotely, citizen interaction with urban facilities using a digital device. Utilities and enterprises IoT applications provide more efficient monitoring, data collection and management of household maintenance processes and facilities within the working environment, respectively. Mobile applications are aimed at implementing smart logistics and transportation by accounting for all traffic objects connected to the network.
It stands to mention that mobility in smart cities will acquire special features. According to Benevolo, Dameri, and D’Auria (2016), the following corresponding priority challenges have been noted in the literature: “reducing pollution, reducing traffic congestion, increasing people safety, reducing noise pollution, improving transfer speed, reducing transfer costs” (p. 15). These issues will be addressed not only through technologies and data analysis that improve logistics management but also through innovative environmental solutions that include pollution reduction and transport facility modification. Alternative types of public transport, car-sharing, bicycle lanes are already being implemented in developed cities.
Building as a fundamental element of urban infrastructure is also subject to a range of innovative improvements. There are already attempts in the literature to design and simulate a smart building. Plageras et al. (2018) propose a topological architecture scheme of a smart building, based on comparative analysis of relevant literature (p. 352). The proposed smart building design includes multiple sensors that analyse temperature, motion, light and moisture information, as well as a cloud server that stores that information. Potentially, based on these data, artificial intelligence can manage specific building characteristics independently. In this way, the building can eventually become a self-governing system.
As ICT will consolidate and manage a variety of information, both personal and public, to improve the wealth and functionality of smart cities, the issue of data security and privacy will become particularly acute. Researchers propose to use the blockchain technology to address this problem. According to Biswas and Muthukkumarasamy (2016), the application of blockchain to smart city devices will create a unified framework within which all connected devices will be able to communicate safely in a distributed environment. A blockchain is a distributed database where information is stored as a sequence of interconnected units on different devices, which makes it very complicated to modify and access it. Thus, technological advances offer not only innovative improvements, but also provide intelligent solutions to potential problems.
Green Spaces and Environment
The environment in urban space is already becoming a major concern. Researchers note that “the urban ecological system is one of the essential elements for human survival in cities” (Anguluri & Narayanan 2017, p. 59). It bears mentioning that there is scientific evidence that the natural environment in cities helps people cope with various psychological problems, such as anxiety and stress, and improves their sense of wellbeing (Anguluri & Narayanan 2017, p. 59). Thus, the reduction of pollution and the improvement of the environment in smart cities appear in the foreground.
Smart cities greening measures are divided into conserving existing urban green spaces and creating new ones. The urban ecosystem in a smart city is intended to be an interconnected network of green and blue spaces, which is extended to the entire city. It may include urban parks and reservoirs, urban woodlands and reservations, street trees, flowerbeds and shrubs, rooftop gardens, domestic gardens. In many respects, the responsibility for the city’s landscaping is shared between the state authorities and the personal commitment of citizens. Also, maintaining the welfare of urban nature requires both governmental and community involvement. Smart legislation will have to deal with air pollution and urban littering. Currently, many advanced citizens, primarily from western cities, are switching to separate garbage collection, electric transport and environmentally friendly products. Smart cities will support such initiatives with specially designed infrastructure.
Moreover, the environmental policies of smart cities should also address global environmental challenges. It is generally believed that they should be managed at the federal and international levels. Trindade et al. (2017) state that the “spread of interest in smart cities and adjacent concepts” is directly related to such factors as “climate change” and “scarcity of natural resources” (p. 4). Smart city residents should have environmental awareness, and global ecological problems should become personal and urban concerns.
Smart Citizenship and Lifestyle
Despite the widespread introduction of ICT and innovative solutions regarding infrastructure and environmental conditions, the underlying meaning of the city’s existence is the wellbeing of its citizens. According to Albino, Berardi and Dangelico (2015), “smarter cities start from the human capital side, rather than blindly believing that ICT can automatically create a smart city” (p. 11). Modern approaches to education, politics, entrepreneurship and other social areas of urban life will be a key indicator of the city’s smartness.
It is assumed that a more participatory culture will characterise the citizenship of smart cities. At present, urban people are more educated, informed and enthusiastic about expressing their position. According to Angelidou (2015), the “knowledge now circulates and is produced collectively”, and “city’s people” successfully create “new ideas, products, strategies and theories, either individually, or in collaboration within social networks” (p. 101). The application of the competence and initiative of the new generation of urban residents will require the creation of new forms of direct participation and decision making.
A particular problem of the present time is that, despite the vast consumer-oriented choice of products and services in the market, there are rather few forms of citizen participation in political processes. Cardullo and Kitchin (2019) note that along with technocratic and market-oriented governance, there is a lack of comprehension of possible options for effective civil cooperation and regulation (p. 820). The emergence of forms of direct democracy may involve a particular transformation of the lifestyle and characteristics of communication between people, including their increased digitalisation and fellowship. Researchers note that “the neighbourhoods can be considered an urban sphere of relations and mutual assistance, where the private coincides with the public space” (Rassia & Pardalos 2015, p. 29). Thus, it is possible that in the future smart cities will consist of smart neighbourhoods with their particular autonomy.
Objectively, the development of smart cities is significantly influenced by ICT, including the IoT, and by the innovative shifts, they bring. Nevertheless, the evolution of the urban environment of the future depends to a large extent on the solutions to environmental problems and on civic awareness of citizens and their efforts. The smart city concept, therefore, includes both the implementation of technological innovations and a more conscious approach to urban life.
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