Smart cities will be built in chaos and diversity

Smart Cities are an incredibly complex concept, combining the adoption of new technologies, the development of new governance, the establishment of a new link with citizens, the cross-functional operation of the city and the improvement of the experience of the users of the city. Can we imagine that the emergence of Smart Cities is simple, linear and obvious?

Can one imagine that some emblematic projects can serve as an example to replicate? Can we finally imagine that some projects have no influence on the future of Smart Cities?

First of all, it seems obvious to me that a concept, as complex as that of Smart City, can not be conceived ideally in spontaneity. It needs time, maturation, successive evolutions, ups and downs, successes and failures to build itself. Each Smart City project can not be an isolated, time-bound initiative: it will be long-term, inspired by other projects and will in turn lead to parallel initiatives.

It is highly probable that at some point some projects may be particularly inspiring; it is not desirable to erect them as an essential example. Innovation does not emerge from uniformity; it grows on diversity. It is therefore understandable that Amsterdam and other cities have influenced many projects, as Paris and Bogota are likely to inspire them in the near future. But it is essential that all other projects follow their own path and generate their own innovations in confidence.

I had the opportunity to tell you that the deployment of a simple digital or intelligent application did not represent for me a Smart City because it only partially answers the different issues I mentioned in my introduction. Nevertheless, such a deployment also contributes to the development of what Smart Cities will be.

It is therefore not the sorting and selection of projects that will accelerate the maturation of intelligent cities, but rather the multiplication of exchanges between existing projects, the development of local initiatives and enrichments or alliances between cities to collaborate on various topics.

The Smart Cities will therefore emerge from chaos and diversity. I do not imply that certain projects are short-term necessarily costly and unnecessary. I would like to say that each Smart City project must have its own strategy, its close objectives in relation to the challenges that the city must address and find, over time, the right compromise between benchmarking and innovation in order to feed this movement of mutual fertilization needed by all the cities of the world.

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