Smarter Cities and Communities

1) What is a smart city? What should it be?

It’s an understatement to say that the concept of a smart city is by essence a fuzzy concept, but this is not an essay about logic: thus it’s impossible to deny the reality of the concept because of its possible irrationality. The Smart City is a real phenomenon, and there are a lot of positive examples of it. But as difficult as an eidetic approach may appear, it is a necessary approach to understand what a smart city is, because obviously a mere and simple description of every city that may have or have not some of its characteristics is not enough.

In fact, I will start by the very basics, with the word smart in itself, and its etymology, it comes from a word that used to mean pain. It actually comes from Old English smeortan of West Germanic origin. The original sense is ‘causing sharp pain’; from this arose ‘keen, brisk’, and the current senses of ‘mentally sharp’ and ‘neat in a brisk, sharp style’. Thus the smart city can be considered in a way as a living organism, a entity with the ability to learn, understand and reason, and that by several aspects.

First of all, smart cities embody a revolution in urbanism: the intelligence lies within the city infrastructures, and this is the first conception of smart cities. It means that smart cities would only be cities with NCIT: New Communication and Information Technologies, cities that will improve the usual urban services like water management, transportation etc. thanks to the new numerical medias. As promoted by enterprises like Siemens, IBM and Orange, the vision of the smart city proposes that technology can be empowered by city administrators to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency, security, convenience and sustainability. These administrators, public or private, would be able to use every data the sensors in the city can collect in order to improve the life of citizens, to be more apt to answer every situation the inhabitants might...