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Three Generations of Evolving Smart Cities

During the last decade or so, as the notion of the Smart City became more and more popular, there is a transformation in how some cities manifest the concept. Overall, there seem to have been three distinct phases of how cities have embraced technology and development, moving from tech-company driven, to city government driven, to, finally, citizen driven. In this time, some cities moved from one phase to another linearly, while others have been stuck in one throughout their experiments with smart cities.


Smart Cities 1.0 – Technology driven.

This phase is characterized by tech companies that approach cities, encouraging them to adopt smart solutions. However, the cities that adopted these solutions were usually not really equipped to properly understand the implications of the technology solutions or how they may impact citizen quality of life. So, the main problem of this approach is that it misses out on the key dynamic of how cities interact with their citizens. Despite this, this model is 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 phase it is the cities themselves that take the initiatives for Smart City projects, instead of the tech companies. A 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 model, the focus is placed increasingly on technology solutions as enablers to improve quality of life. Perhaps one of the best examples of Smart Cities 2.0 is what Rio’ s mayor did when he went to IBM to seek their expertise in creating a sensor network to mitigate the role of landslides in the hillside favelas. Most of the current leading Smart Cities, such as Barcelona or Vienna, can be probably classified as Smart Cities 2.0.


Smart Cities 3.0 ‘“ Citizen co-creation.

This new phase has emerged in the past year. Instead of a tech-driven or city-driven model, leading smart cities are beginning to embrace citizen co-creation models for helping to drive the next generation of solutions. This phase appears to be grounded more in issues of equity and social inclusion. There is an important emphasis on creating the enabling conditions to allow local sharing activities to emerge. So far, some cities have made steps towards the 3.0 phase. Vienna, for example, a leading Smart City following the 2.0 model, has started to include citizens as investors in its local partnerships for clean energy, or similarly, Vancouver has engaged 30,000 citizens in the co-creation of the Vancouver Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, and Medellin, in Colombia, has focused on urban regeneration from the bottom up by engaging citizens from the city’ s most vulnerable neighborhoods in transformative projects.


The original article can be found here.