Cities in a Time of Global Emergencies

Cities in a time of global emergencies 3

• Economic dimensions are coming to the fore. • Culture, history and values remain assets in designing and developing smart cities.

Table 1 – Populations of the 10 cities covered (broad city area)

Cities Kigali Manila


Population 1,170,000 13,920,000 1,490,000 4,970,000 20,410,000 6,770,000 27,060,000 4,180,000 37,390,000 1,930,000


Philippines Saudi Arabia


Melbourne Mumbai Santiago Shanghai


India Chile China Israel Japan

Tel Aviv Tokyo Vienna


Source: Smart City Index. Note: In individual chapters population figures may vary from those in the table above as they may have been derived from alternative sources.

The “pioneers” have adjusted their strategies. We see a “new wave” forming as a certain number of smart cities are entering a “second age” and draw lessons from their initial trials and errors, and adjust their strategies. Among the 10 cities covered in this second volume, several have found themselves in that position and radically modified their strategies. Vienna, Melbourne, Tokyo and Shanghai (now on its fourth smart city plan) can be considered part of that group. The experience of those “pioneers” can be of high value for those younger smart cities still in their “first age”. Top-down or bottom-up: experimentation goes on. A major issue in this context seems to be whether a centralized or top-down approach (in which a city’s leadership makes major decisions) is to be preferred to a decentralized or bottom-up one (in which citizens and stakeholders are expected to make the key choices and steer efforts). Here, the experience of the cities covered seems to be rather diverse, and all cities have been eager to offer a fair chance to both approaches. Mumbai is clearly moving from a centralized approach to a more distributed (polycentric) one. Tokyo is following an opposite path, after realizing the limits and disadvantages of multiple bottom-up initiatives. COVID-19 has highlighted complexities in governance. One of the issues that COVID-19 made more acute is that of the multiplicity of governance levels in which a smart city needs to operate. As the pandemic started to spread, and emergency measures had to be taken, conflicts sometimes emerged between decisions made at city level, those made at provincial/state levels, and finally the laws and regulations

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