A lot of Smart Cities’ events are taking place around the world. Some filled with content and others only to assure major corporations and brands a stage. This theme is ever so more attractive and nobody seems to want to be left out. Yet, there is some mistrust towards Smart Cities. On the other hand, there is also an absurd trust and almost idiotic fundamentalism on the perfect city, ran by technology, filled with hipsters, artists, startups, groundbreakers, tourists…
Naturally, these are extreme versions and there certainly is an attainable balance and good will amongst the majority of citizens, companies and public and political administration.
At the Smart to Future 2015 in London, I was invited to talk about the ways of activating citizen’s involvement. The Citizen Engagement that makes no sense and appears only in the Smart Cities discussion to justify investments and show some sort of kindness in the actions of some of the cities’ rulers. Even if those action will lead to no improvement in the citizen’s well-being and quality of life.
As opposed to what is said, Smart Cities have nothing to do with intelligence, technology, sustainability, economy, citizenship, energy nor with administration. It has a little to do with all of this. It has to do, not only with Cities, but with humanity in general, with our greater tool: communication.
Talking about Internet of Things, Big Data, Citizen Engagement, Apps, Innovation and Entrepreneurism, Startups, Energy Policies and Environment, Urbanism, Tourism, Creativity and Sustainability is talking about Smart Cities. Smart ways of communicating are essential to unblock almost everything and, therefore, improving citizen’s quality of life, making them happy, feeling integrated and thriving. Not talking, not communicating, is going backwards, assuming an isolation posture and of domain over their peers.
Communication. It is the key word that must lead us in these turbulent days we are living in. Communicate to love, to buy, to sell, to make… Communicate to achieve, encourage, produce and thrive. The big revolution of Smart Cities is the way we communicate with each other and all of us with everything else.
In the Internet of Things, communication is digital, bits and data amongst machines, apps, software and hardware, it is artificial intelligence in the hands of humans but without overpowering the consciousness that it is a mathematical, direct, fluid and effective communication. If communication fails, in the IoT, things stop working. And who assures communication in the IoT? Firstly, the infrastructure, the ecosystem that enables data transmission, messages. Secondly, Man! Who monitors, programs, improves and takes advantage of all the perks of having machines communicating with us but also between them.
In the city’s perspective, if communication in IoT is mainly digital, between people, another model has to be developed. A model strengthened by transparency, that does not disappoint the citizen’s expectations and makes them feel involved and cherished. Cities have to allow the rising of an infrastructure or ecosystem that, as in IoT, allows messages to flow, without noise, breaks or interruption. Direct, real, almost pure messages. Truly genuine.
As in IoT, here man also has to be the programmer and enabler of this type of open and genuine communication. Instead of programming, educating and strengthening human and social bonds, establishing networks and sharing resources and knowledge.
Knowing how to communicate is our biggest gift. In the planet, in the universe, the more complex the way of communication is, the more intelligent is the species. An apparent contradiction as the ideal form of communication would be as simple as possible, disposed of moral and culture, naked from judgments and impurities. Simple communications is the last step of human intelligence. And, in the theme of Smart Cities, we are really committed to ignoring the real revolution that follows it. It is not about a technological revolution, neither economic, nor human, nor social. It is a revolution in Communication. Simple!