Smart City – what is it?

Smart City – what is it?
Darrius Drew
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

Smart cities are no longer a vision of the future, they are a reality. How will technology change our daily lives and what might our cities look like in just a few years?

What are Smart Cities?

The term smart city was first used before the year 2000. In fact, there is no single definition of a smart city, although there have been many proposals over the years. It is generally accepted that a smart city is an urban area that uses new technologies to improve the quality of public services.

Here the most common concepts such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, real-time data collection and analysis, and cloud solutions appear. However, modern technology is not everything to make a city smart. Smaller cities can also be smart, as the idea of Smart City has evolved and now focuses more on people.

Generations of Smart Cities

At the moment, Smart Cities are most often divided into 3 generations. They show how the approach to urban technology has changed over the last few decades.

  • Smart Cities 1.0 – In this approach, the focus has been on new technologies and introducing them without full knowledge of their benefits as well as potential drawbacks. Most smart cities in the world at this point fall into this generation. The business-technology lobby had a big part in this, and this approach is now heavily criticized.
  • Smart Cities 2.0 – The role of city authorities, who are the initiators of change, is much greater. They choose technologies and solutions that in their opinion are the most beneficial for the city. They are not just passive recipients but partners in implementation. Such a system can be found in Rio de Janeiro or Barcelona
  • Smart Cities 3.0 – Definitely the youngest generation, as it started around 2015. In this case, the focus is on city citizens. Implemented systems should be consulted with residents and respond to their needs. Technology and business recede into the background, and the individual problems and needs of the residents are the most important. Projects are not only focused on technology and infrastructure.

What is a smart city?

Contrary to appearances, a smart city does not have to be filled with technology. A smart city meets several characteristics above all

  • Efficiency – in the use of available resources, such as infrastructure or technology. This is often referred to as the sharing economy
  • Resilience – to economic, social, epidemiological crises and to climate change
  • Innovation – a wise combination of implementing new solutions and building a culture of participation based on openness to the citizen.
  • Adaptation – immediate response to new challenges and seeking new solutions and readiness for change.

Can Polish cities be smart?

Absolutely. As we mentioned above, modern technology is not the main determinant of a Smart City. First of all, local municipal authorities have to listen to the voices of the citizens and involve them in the decision-making process. Even the most modern technologies implemented by officials for ordinary residents may be completely useless and unnecessary, and will only create the illusion of a “smart city”.

Main photo: Joey Kyber/

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