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    From Smart City to Future City: The 21st-Century Urbanization Challenge

    In the recent years, governments around the world have been encountering increasing challenges as they map out their smart city developments with the aim of improving people’s quality of living. According to the United Nations, at present, over 54% of the world’s population now live in cities and this figure has been foreseen to increase to 67% by 2050.

    Urbanisation fosters relevant opportunities for social and economic development and more sustainable living. Further, as cities worldwide compete globally for investment and the greatest minds, utilising the true potential of urbanisation to increase market share and eliminate poverty rest on the possession of a clear and long-term vision.

    Failed cities will obstruct the interconnected flows of trade, capital, people and technology. In addition, to rectify a series of infrastructure, transit, utilities and connectivities issues, government leaders will have to make use of data-driven intelligence to identify suitable priorities and ensure livability of its people. They will also have to make certain that data sources can be connected smoothly so as to ensure the delivery of predictive services to the citizens.

    However, smart city is a broad concept, hence what are the characteristics that define a smart city?

    A 21st century smart city uses digital technology to:

    • Promote performance and well-being and increase its ability to respond to city-wide and global challenges
    • Ensure its critical infrastructure is safe and economically sustainable and public service offers are more interactive, transparent and responsive
    • Bring together people, processes and technology to enable a holistic customised approach that accounts for their city culture, long-term planning and citizen needs.

    Besides technology, the smart city vision also has to ensure the consent of its citizens and the business community. This is because every city is different and will encounter varying urbanisation challenges; therefore as an initial point to kickstarting the smart city initiatives, it is important to engage with all its stakeholders so as to better understand their different needs and unique attributes.

    Even though it is important to advance the digital infrastructure, being able to communicate with its people on a personal level is the key element to an open society and creation of ideas, entrepreneurship, and growth that will allow the realisation of a smart city development.

    Source: Digitalist Magazine

    Participate in the upcoming QS in conversation – “University-Public Sector Partnerships: Smart Cities” which will be held from 3-5 October 2018 in Singapore.

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