A blog on what ‘smart’ is. Exploring smartness is inevitable as concepts like ‘smart city’ take hold, as panacea it often seems. The more we know the easier it is to find the right approach to what currently seem intractable problems. Such is the assumption.
In this atmosphere wisely defining what ‘smart’ is, and for that matter what ‘city’ is, becomes inevitable. The possible outcome of explorations and definitions might very well be that being smart is a rather complex affair.
‘Smart’ is only of any meaning when linked to an issue, and in the case of the city it should be about issues that concern us all.
In this blog perhaps even irritatingly question marks are put where believers in Big Data see a bright future. A critical stance is –together with seeing that bright future—part of what could be a valuable transition from smartness as defined as a managerial top-league asset to it being what we work with on street level and work floor.
There then ought to be an agenda of question marks. What is ‘smart’? Is it the domain of a few, the wise, the educated, the powerful? Is it a civil right to be smart? Is ‘smart’ the equivalent of knowing enough to feel you are on top of things? Is smart the same as having Big Data to play with? And what is ‘playing with’?
‘Smart’ is only of any meaning when linked to an issue, and in the case of the city it should be about issues that concern us all. ‘Smart’ then is smartly approaching these issues only when they are well defined.
There might be Big Data, if there are no Big Issues to start with data will not become the information needed to effectively deal with what we need to deal with.
Smart is not only knowing where things take place, and in what numbers. Smart is also about knowing why they take place in such numbers. It is not just about knowing what should be acted upon but also how we should act. And it is not just about what goes wrong but also what goes right, and why that is so. Perhaps the main smartness we need to have is the smartness to know how smart we already are.
”The art of being smart; that is what this blog is going to be about.”
Rob Ruts is an artist, theater maker and documentary filmer. His focus is on using art as a means of exploring the city, and adding value to the way we deal with matters that concern us all. He is also an expert on urban risk management. He teaches, does research into and develops just means to deal with the conflicts that come with living together in a tight spot.