Boyd Cohen, who has been studying smart cities since 2011, identifies three distinct phases of how cities have embraced technology and development, moving from tech company driven, to city government driver, to, finally, citizen driven.
- SMART CITIES 1.0: TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN. Smart Cities 1.0 is characterized by technology providers encouraging the adoption of their solutions to cities that were really not equipped to properly understand the implications of the technology solutions or how they may impact citizen quality of life. Smart Cities 1.0 is also the underlying philosophy behind most of the bespoke smart cities projects proposed around the globe from PlanIT in Portugal to Songdo in South Korea. These future city visions have been driven by private sector technology companies such as Living PlanIT and Cisco.
- SMART CITIES 2.0: TECHNOLOGY ENABLED, CITY-LED. In this generation, the municipality’”led by forward-thinking mayors and city administrators’”takes the lead in helping determine what the future of their city is and what the role is for the deployment of smart technologies and other innovations. In this phase, city administrators increasingly focus on technology solutions as enablers to improve quality of life. A good example is Barcelona, which has more than 20 smart cities program areas and literally more than 100 active smart cities projects.
- SMART CITIES 3.0: CITIZEN CO-CREATION. In this model, smart cities are embracing citizen co-creation strategies for helping to drive the next generation of smarter cities. Vancouver led one of the most ambitious collaborative strategy making initiatives by engaging 30,000 citizens in the co-creation of the Vancouver Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, while Vienna included citizens as investors in local solar plants as contribution to the city’s 2050 renewable energy objectives.
Cohen argues that some cities move from one phase to another while others have stuck in one throughout their experiments with smart cities. However, he believes that a blend of Smart Cities 2.0 and Smart Cities 3.0 probably represent the best chance for the future.
City administrators need to continue to lead by example, supporting the growth of broadband digital infrastructure, wireless networks, e-gov and m-gov services and Internet of things sensor networks. But all of that Smart Cities 2.0 capability should be increasingly geared towards enabling citizen co-creation and urban entrepreneurship. Cities need to continue to embrace the innovative capacity of their residents who are able to detect needs before the city administrators can, and who can collaboratively work to fix the problems and improve the city with rapid, cost-effective innovations. Cities must move from treating citizens as recipients of services, or even customers, to participants in the co-creation of improved quality of life.