Forget “Smart”, just make mine “Livable”! 8 crucial takeaways for a successful modern city: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what a ‘smart’ city should be about and I’m basically coming to the conclusion that maybe I should start calling what I believe we need a ‘Livable City’ instead. Here’s what’s needed for a Livable City:

  1. First and foremost It’s gotta be about people Not cars, not data, not efficiency, not technology. Most conferences on the topic are sponsored and paid for by big companies and they focus on what tech they can sell. Focusing on people and what impacts the city will have on their lives is not easily monitored, but that’s where the conversation needs to start from if smart cities are ever going to get beyond the pilot phase.

  2. Know thy neighbor.
    A livable city is one where people know their neighbors because they’re are able opportunities to interact with them… in person. Spaces & places where people come together such as parks with benches, well lit sidewalks and public spaces, libraries that have “noisy” sections too, community farm plots to grow food, and restaurants, coffee shops and pubs where people can break break together or have a drink & conversation.

  3. When I’m Mobile.
    Mobility is designed around getting people from point to A to point B in a smooth & timely manner and ideally in a way that brings some activity into their life – maybe by walking, maybe on bus, maybe on a bike or by car if the distance warrants it. It’s not about maximizing road space for cars & parking, or using road barriers to split up or cut off neighborhoods from each other to make it easier for cars to go faster.

  4. Green is Good Green trees, grass, some flowers and a bit of wilderness is what the soul needs. We humans after all are animals – for a few million years our ancestors and hence our minds & bodies developed to interact with and relax in a ‘natural’ ecosystem. We feel better and perform better being able to see nature and being in it. Building our man-made environment to enhance the natural environment and to be in tune with the natural design to our resiliency.

  5. Don’t be Wasted How can we get rid of single use plastics, go back to using real coffee cups and glasses and not generate huge amounts of trash as we go about our daily lives? Educating people to properly recycle or reuse things is crucial to humanity’s long-term survival.

  6. You want data – I’ll sell you data!!
    Smart phones are now ubiquitous in all modern economies and almost everyone across the socioeconomic spectrum is now a user. These devices are at the center of real-time data collection and everyone is giving away their data – it’s time to sell our data for money to the companies that want to use it and they’ll be forced to come up with apps and tools people want to buy since they’re really is not such thing as “free” in the world of digital. Let’s get apps and services we actually need vs. what companies are trying to get people to use to achieve a smart city.

  7. Don’t foul my air! A truly livable city has air you can breathe, which means mobility systems that don’t burn hydrocarbon based fuel. Lights, air conditioners, refrigerators and other home electronics must run off of wind, solar, hydrogen or a combination all of totally renewable energy sources.

  8. What I want, not what you want to sell!
    Lastly, we need to understand what people want from their cities in terms of lifestyle and services – it not about what big corporations what to sell us. It’s about what we want to do with the relatively limited and precious time we all get on this planet. To paraphrase – Life, nobody gets out alive, so let’s make the most of it, and ensure we leave the place in great shape!