Wired UK has published a guest post by Usman Haque, founder of Pachube.com and director at Haque Design + Research and CEO of Connected Environments, where he argues that current Smart Cities initiatives are looking for a one-size fits all, top-down strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being and economic development, and that their strategies focus on the city as a single entity, rather than the people — citizens — that bring it to life.
“Any adequate model for the smart city must focus on the smartness of its citizens and encourage the processes that make cities important: those that sustain very different — sometimes conflicting — activities. Cities are, by definition, engines of diversity so focusing solely on streamlining utilities, transport, construction and unseen government processes can be massively counter-productive, in much the same way that the 1960s idealistic fondness for social-housing tower block economic efficiency was found, ultimately, to be socially and culturally unsustainable.
We, citizens, create and recreate our cities with every step we take, every conversation we have, every nod to a neighbour, every space we inhabit, every structure we erect, every transaction we make. A smart city should help us increase these serendipitous connections. It should actively and consciously enable us to contribute to data-making (rather than being mere consumers of it), and encourage us to make far better use of data that’s already around us.”