Why should cities become Smart?

I launched the SmartCitiesbyMachnteam blog one year ago. It is now published directly on the web, LinkedIn and Twitter. To date, more than 4000 people subscribe and receive the articles the day of their publication. I thank all the regular readers for their loyalty, their attendance and all the comments they have sent to me. I also thank all blogs and media that have published one of my articles in their columns.

For a year, I have proposed various reflections on the evolution of energy systems in Smart Cities. Most of my articles suggest the same underlying question: why do we suddenly need to develop Smart Cities. Wouldn’t cities never be smart or resilient in the past? Considering the means available to them in the past, there is reason to doubt. Their level of resilience was mainly based on the spontaneous and natural action and reaction ability of their citizens.

For decades, if not for centuries, most cities have successfully crossed the social, economic and political changes, often with light governance structures.

I tend to think, but am I competent to this, that the recent evolution of urban governance, administration and the associated control, kidnapped a share of the citizens’ spontaneous contribution to the resilience of cities. Nevertheless, they kept, individually or collectively, (for example, through the companies they work for) a self-determining part that still allows them to master the evolution of their aspirations and activity.

Would Smart Cities seek to compensate for this loss of intelligence that citizens previously had, by strengthening the cities control or to give back to the people the means to intervene in the evolution of their city?

The pre-eminence of technology, the omnipotence that communities often expect from it, suggest that the first hypothesis dominates: I have already said in other words that this scenario will lead to my point to the rejection of the Smart Cities projects by citizens.

In order that technology enables urban ecosystems and therefore citizens to move more smoothly, economically and socially, priority must be given to the evolution of urban governance towards more decentralized models, to an action mode focused on coordination and coherence rather than towards more control.

Seen from this perspective, the challenge for cities is perhaps to find the intelligence and resilience partly lost, the technology enabling them to achieve this objective in a more complex and demanding context than before.

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