With the growing rates of urbanization and current patterns of energy consumption and CO2 emission by cities, accomplishing sustainable urban development becomes a crucial challenge for the 21st century. In this context, the recent (2000’s) notion of “smart cities” has a special interest in research and policy implications.
(Specially for the Coursera’s MOOC “Engaging Citizens: A Game Changer for Development?”)
Let’s imagine a city having suburbs with a standard of living allowing citizens to commute to work by car. With the urban sprawl when cities become geographically large, it is quite difficult, expensive and inefficient to extend the public transport infrastructure till the edges of the city. Thus, with the majority of offices located normally in the city center, the suburb dwellers have to use their car to go to work. This usually end up in traffic congestions, decreased quality of air, lack of parking lots in the city. Thus, loss of money, time and health.
If you google “smart cities”, you will immediately find lists like “Top 10 smart cities of Europe” or “The World’s 20 smart cities”. Smart became the new catchy, and there are dozens of ratings like this (with and without any methodology behind).