Recently, the concept of the smart city has become a buzzword used by several large commercial enterprises to sell their IT infrastructure capabilities and services. We observed the same thing in 1980, when the new productivity tools (micro-computers) appeared that eventually resulted in the installation of information systems in offices everywhere, or in 1995 with the initial allure of the Internet’s promises for increased productivity.

In 2015 the market for such services accounted for $ 654 billion. It is estimated that in 2020 it will reach $ 1,266 billion (Smart Cities Report, 2014).

Three vectors are:

  • Architecture of the physical structures (networks) ;
  • The architecture of data (database) ;
  • Civic interactive architecture (local stakeholders).

The three mutations :

  • Structures ;
  • Data ;
  • Interaction.

If we analyze ICT developments during the past forty years, we see that in the beginning there is always great excitement (in this case, the integration of administrative silos and the impact of ICT on annual budget). Later, along comes the cross-disciplinary and cross-operational silo challenges (we discover, for example, the exorbitant cost of the new network and its implementation schedule).

Several years later, after the newness of the buzzword has worn off (in this case smart cities), we finally begin to ask the right questions (the citizen as a development partner, information as the basis of the city, and the real costs of implantation). However, it is all too often too late, and the municipality becomes the prisoner of long-term contracts it signed prematurely.

The dark side

A critical challenge in the emerging knowledge-based society will be the increased densification of territory (urban sprawl, suburban boom, condo buildings, wild urbanization, etc.)

The current response to this ongoing urbanization remains building upwards without much forethought about community development and services during he construction of urban spaces.

Densification is rapidly becoming a critically important issue because of changing demographics (population aging, increasingly smaller households, south-north immigration, etc.) and the economy (land value, taxes, secure line, youth unemployment, etc.)

The current lies about participation

For too many administrators, the only useful participation from / by citizens is when they act as an informant of some sort or other. Citizens are not regarded as bearers of knowledge and even less as co-decision-makers.

For most administrators, the Web only offers at best a form of dialogue whereby the administration retains its power to interpret the reactions of the citizen at will. Officials considers public data as their property. A participatory forum remains in fact today only a forum. So generally citizens come to participate less and less, and eventually will participate only if there is a sense of being listened to, heard and understood.

Citizen spaces

Cities function as a medium for the generation and exchange of ideas (chapter 0, no. 1), a space for dialogues and building complex consensus. Cities also make possible the emergence of new forms of citizenship 2.0.

As a result of the cultural mutations we are experiencing, we are discovering the stages of a new structure of dialogue, based on models of proximity, and (heretofore local solidarity : chapter 6, no. 19). :

Technology planning

The goal is to create an interconnected network-of-networks able to manage across all municipal silos :

Unfortunately, we do not always take into account :

  • high costs of implementation and maintenance, because a new generation of technology typically appears every five years (see new norms and standards of ISO and ANSI);
  • Internet 3 (not yet ready); it should analyze the current challenges of the implementation of iPv6 (to have enough IP addresses) ;
  • at present, 80% of the collected data is not structured; how can unstructured data be used in the future ? (chapter 2, no 6).
  • the costs of proprietary computer systems imposed by companies are often not compared with those of open systems.

IDC Government Insights, 2013

The goal is to create not a technology project, but a business project based on business intelligence that seeks to optimize what exists by adding a targeted percentage of cost reduction in each area :

At this level, it does not adequately account for:

  • the many illiterate (40%?) and disadvantaged living in the city who perhaps do not participate ?
  • aging populations that will have new types of yet-unplanned needs :
  • climate change that will bring new types of increasingly-costly disasters ;
  • the fact that new data processing centers have doubled their electricity costs every 2-5 years due, in particular, to air conditioning requirements (40% of energy costs), etc.

Here is a model of economic planning used in the United States :

Smart governance

One of the most comprehensive models comes from a university blog Information Strategy :