Institute for the Future is about to launch a new website on the makers movement and cities, a crowdsourced forecasting game that challenges everyone to imagine their own city as a Maker City in the year 2025.
Human Smart Cities are those where governments engage citizens by being open to be engaged by citizens, supporting the co-design of technical and social innovation processes through a peer-to-peer relationship based on reciprocal trust and collaboration. The Human Smart City is a city where people – citizens and communities – are the main actors of urban “smartness”. A Human Smart City adopts services that are born from people’s real needs and have been co-designed through interactive, dialogic, and collaborative processes.
In a Human Smart City, people are not obliged to adopt technologies that have been selected and purchased by their municipal governments; they rather are encouraged to compose their own services using available technologies in simple, often frugal solutions. Co-creation initiatives at the heart of the Human Smart City concept also stimulate local development, creating new business models and new apps, products, services and solutions. Indeed, the solutions for the big challenges of our time require not only innovative technologies but, above all, mass behaviour transformation of the kind that can only be achieved through the involvement of people. Through the appropriate governance of social and technical innovation and the integration of Future Internet technologies, Living Labs and Social Innovation, the Human Smart Cities vision aims to build on a new sense of belonging and identity, wellbeing and community, to shape a better and happier society.
The promise of a new science of cities and big data as the new gold rush that will fuel urban management. But we should remember cities are complex systems, with a mess of people, subsystems, services, infrastructures, interests, conflicts,…Are cities really a giant math equation? Is it possible to capture all their variables and turn urban management into a formal, quantitative, deterministic and automated system?
Smart cities: urban innovation and civic engagement in a networked society (@manufernandez)
I don´t think so.
My last talk (San Sebastian, 28/05/2013)
Code/Space. Software and everyday life
Anyhow, most of them are clearly an invitation to broaden some predominant views on cities and avoid the Sisyphus condemnation of expecting a predictability level that will never happen. Great tools are emerging to ease understanding what happens in a city and can be used for any purpose, from energy demand patterns to traffic flows, from understanding the pulse and sentiment of citizens to personalizing public services delivery. But there is still a wide range of not digitalized information that is of crucial value and is part of a hidden code, the intelligence on the streets.
But it is not enough to add certain additional technologies or redress existing products with a more sophisticated covering. If we really want to contribute to a better urban development, it will be necessary to design these products taking labs to the streets and meet the people that are expected to interact with them. There we will find non-technological design variables that will be decisive in ensuring the products are useful.
Every day, in every street, thousands of voluntary and involuntary acts facilitate (or hinder) life. The attitude of care and the awareness of sharing a common space are, in all cases, the most relevant aspects of these stories. I do not know if they are intelligent behaviors, but they are relevant. Including these key ideas in the design of technological solutions for urban functions is essential so that these solutions are user-oriented, are proportionate to the actual scope and reach that technological solutions can offer, are understandable and have a useful urban function. Including these types of features in technological projects implemented in cities would help to better understand how cities function, how citizens behave and how to integrate unpredictability as an essence of urban life.
Futuristic highways in the Netherlands glow in the dark