Smart City Solutions or Smart Urban Ecosytems?

Since two decades ago, the most promising set of solutions to the big challenges cities are facing has been built around the notion of Smart Cities. This notion of Smart City goes beyond the concept of sustainability, and it is grounded on the interrelationship between functional, environmental and socio-economic variables DRIVEN BY TECHNOLOGY (independing FROM DESIGN)

  • The traditional approach to Smart Cities usually understands technology as the final outcome instead of the means that might be useful to find a solution for city problems.
  • This fact can be partially explained due to the influence that big giant like IBM, Deloitte, ABB, Intel or Cisco have. We can find definitions of Smart Cities such as “the cities that use scalable solutions taking advantage of information and communication technologies to increase efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the quality of citizen´s life” (Cisco) or either “the cities that optimize the use of available information in order to better understand and control resources management and operations” (IBM).

In the opposite side, we believe the interrelationship between functional, environmental and socio-economic variables should be DRIVEN BY EFFICIENT PASSIVE DESIGN (supported  BY TECHNOLOGY):

  • Obviating the common definition for Smart City as the ones that are configured by a set of “Active Intelligent Solutions” (technologies and post-urban artifacts), we have chosen the deep knowledge embedded in “Passive Intelligent Solutions”, more related to an integral urban design able to establish a relationship between environmental strategies and socio-economic ones, within the territory, that should definitely be taken into account.

Efficiency, flexibility and economy of means and assets may be achieved in cities if they are configured according to “Good basic design principles” and that is actually quite far away from what design strategies that are only based on technology offer. If there is no good design grounded on solid principles, just the use of technology will not be enough to make it work.

At Citythinking we talked about cities as the result of complex economic, social and environmental dynamics, and we continuous doing so because no systemic approach can be truly sustainable if excluding one of these indissoluble elements. Thereafter we have constructed a methodology aimed to offer a HOLISTIC INTEGRATION of ECONOMY with SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT. Introducing in this point the concept of Eco-System and its application to urban studies developed by Salvador Rueda (Charter for the ecosystemic planning of cities and metropolises) seems very appropriate as it refers the community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system.

Consequently, under the label SMART URBAN ECOSYSTEMS or SUEwe can easily synthesize all main driving forces that in our opinion are of prime interest for the field of study. A brand that permit to go much beyond the common formulation of Smart City and hence with added value for the global stakeholders.