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Smart City: is it the smart way?

Hi Amanda here from the think team!

Today's meeting with the government on wastewater treatment plant and smart city sparked some exciting opportunities for Bali! As an Urban Studies graduate, smart city and its implementation always attracts an intriguing open ended discussion in class - likewisetoday! The conversation got me thinking about how the perception of smart by the public differ quite significantly different nations and period of time. For instance, in the U.S., with the popular Silicon Valley (a region in Northern California taken over by Tech giants) in the 2010s, smart city has almost always linked by how technologically savvy a city can be. Big technology and network companies such as IBM and Cisco are in the forefront of enabling this smart city planning with Internet of Things (IoT) as the defining feature, considering the potential business opportunities that come with it through smart metering, wireless sensor networks, open platforms, high-speed broadband and cloud computing. While this approach raised some concerns by the large amount of data gathering and using for algorithms to optimize everything in the city, this high tech digital technology city planning approach markets smart city as a city that supports innovation for a better social and environmental cause.

Whereas, in the developing world cities, many interprets the concept smart city to increase global and economic competitiveness, which then attract private capital and increase national growth. Interestingly, the smart city approach in the developing seem more focused on how a smart city approach can support the existing planning to be sustainable for the people. As you can see in our founder's blog, sustainability is a core part of the planning, whether it is for the hard (ie. housing, transportation) infrastructure building or soft (i.e. IoT, technologies) infrastructural upgrade.

As shown above, smart city interpreted differently to provide for the needs of the people, and environment. Essentially, the question is not whether “smart” is the right choice, but rather how smart city planning can be applied in the right way.

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