The corona pandemic has raised the question of what ‘the good life’ is, especially in cities. During the lockdown the streets were empty, the air was cleaner and the city quieter. What makes a city worth living in – and what does that have to do with a Smart City?
For me, a liveable city or community is a sustainable and resilient community, which aims at high-quality, lively interaction in a beautiful, green, clean and individual environment.
We have linked the topic of the Smart City, which has long been the subject of very technical discussions, with the reality of life in Germany and Europe. With new technologies and smart analogue solutions, we want to achieve mutually defined goals while preserving and protecting our livelihoods.
The basis is formed by the rights of freedom of the individual, supplemented by contemporary, fair economic activity. Only in this way will we be able to continue to shape our consumption and consumption behaviour in the future in such a way that we detoxify our living environment.
In many industries corona has acted as an accelerator of digitalisation and innovation. Many ideas and concepts that we discussed extensively for a long time beforehand have now simply been implemented. In many places, we also saw a lot more collaborative and partnership-based cooperation. What was your experience with this in relation to the Smart City concept?
For a long time now, there has been a huge surge of interest in the topic of the Smart City, and I've been following this development for the past ten years. The topic is more present with us than ever before, including in Germany, because it has become clear that we could have e.g. benefited from Smart City developments during the pandemic situation.
In our video series „Have a Tea with Dr. E – How is Germany doing?“ we show very clearly the development you described. Using everyday examples that affect us all, we work out what happened in our country during the weeks of the standstill, where we stand now and what direction we should take in terms of development.
The pandemic has of course affected core areas of Smart City development. In the areas of governance, i.e. administration, or learning and working, for example, the experience gained will accelerate developments. On the other hand, there is a fear that the revolution in mobility may initially have negative effects.
Basically every area of life has been affected by what has happened and now is the time to make the best of the knowledge gained. In my opinion, there is no lack of concepts. But we should also look to other regions of the world to learn from their experiences.
What role does mobility play in a Smart City?
Mobility is very important in a Smart City. Mobility is a key factor in the functioning of a city or municipality. Measures taken in the field of passenger and goods transport can be experienced immediately. Mobility and transport services therefore have a decisive influence on the quality of life and image of a city or municipality.
In the mobility sector there are numerous smart solutions that need to be applied as part of an overall concept. In the book „Smart City – Made in Germany“ we have outlined various future-oriented approaches.
In Germany, the issue has landed on the doorsteps of municipal administrations and municipal companies. We are now looking for ways to develop our already very functional communities in a meaningful, coordinated way, with a focus on us all living a good life.
This raises the question of the distribution of tasks and financing. While we can define the distribution of tasks, the question of financing remains a challenge. Especially in the current overall economic situation. However, the investment must be made.
The Asian region in particular is far ahead of us in terms of the use of modern technologies. Things that we see in use in China or Korea are potential visions of the future for us.
What are the next steps to be taken on the way to Smart Cities?
Germany and Europe should develop a strategic path of social development that pursues a positive vision of the future and is supported by broad majorities. Municipalities can begin this development today on a highly individual basis, trying out lots of different things, sharing experiences and learning from each other.
But if a Smart City is to be supported by the mindset that we describe in our “Blisscity” approach (Blisscity: place of happiness), we need more than regulation and technical progress. We need each individual to have a changed attitude, an attitude that is committed to preserving the beauty and diversity of this world and one that is focused on fairness.
Prof. Chirine Etezadzadeh
Prof. Chirine Etezadzadeh founded and heads the SmartCity.institute in Stuttgart. For almost ten years now, she has been helping to shape the development of the Smart City with numerous projects, publications and events and as a consultant. From 2014 to 2016 Prof. Etezadzadeh lectured on “Product Development for Smart Cities” at the Cologne University of Technology. In 2017 the Beijing Information Science & Technology University (BISTU) awarded her an honorary professorship. In the same year, Prof. Etezadzadeh organised the first Smart City Convention, “Blisscity”, together with Messe Frankfurt. With the volume “Smart City - Made in Germany”, which she designed with over 140 contributors and which was published by Springer Verlag in 2020, she presented a German reference work on the topic of the Smart City.
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