The Smart City is dead, long live the Smart Citizen

So far the debate on the Smart City has focused around the technology being developed and created by large corporations, and ignores the most important dimension of cities, the people who live, work and create within them.

Cities around the world are hitting the same impasse. No one has so far found a way to intelligently bring together the big technology platforms offered by the global corporations, with local technology projects and the interests of citizens.

A growing number of voices now argue that the very concept of the Smart City is flawed, that it will fail to deliver civic and economic benefits, and the route to vibrant and successful future cities lies instead in Smart Citizens.

The Smart City market is predicted by 2050 to be worth £6.3 billion (Pike Research report, published 5 Feb 2013), but if we are headed for another bubble then everyone loses out, the cities, the citizens, and the technology companies themselves.

At the FutureEverything Summit, we are bringing together a group of influential thinkers to debate the case for rethinking the Smart City model, including Anthony Townsend (Institute for the Future), Dan Hill (Fabrica), Usman Haque, Léan Doody (Arup Smart Cities Lead), Duncan Wilson (Intel), Catherine Mulligan and Sascha Haselmayer (Director, Living Labs Global).

Alongside keynote talks on the idea of the Smart Citizen, there will be a debate led by Anthony Townsend on a defining challenge facing smart city developers around the world, how to build a bespoke smart city.

We hope these events at the FutureEverything Summit will shift the debate towards the central place of citizens in smart city design, as well as introduce new thinking on how we can combine the best ideas and technologies that are local to each city or from around the world to build cities that are bespoke.

The Future Cities strand at the FutureEverything Summit in March 2013 will also explore the role of serendipity in the city of the future, new approaches to delivering infrastructure such as transport and energy, and how citizens can influence their city’s future.

A post by Anthony Townsend on The Bespoke Smart City debate can be found here. FutureEverything has been involved in these debates for a number of years, see this article in the Smarter Cities supplement by The Guardian/IBM from 2010. Info on the FutureEverything urban interface lab here.

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