Cities in a Time of Global Emergencies

Cities in a time of global emergencies 6

some of the dimensions of smart cities that are not properly measured by the index. All over the world many smart cities are experimenting with new ways of measuring their performance and monitoring their progress along their own strategic avenues. 4 It is important to collect such experiences and quantify them in ways that can enhance the ability of smart cities to exchange and build on them. Both efforts should go hand in hand: encouraging exchange of experience among cities, and developing metrics to stimulate action on the ground. 3. Improving governance in smart cities and making them more agile. The pandemic showed how the superior agility of some cities allowed them to react more rapidly – and sometimes more efficiently – than their respective nation states. But the last two years also underlined the key roles that can only be played by central authorities, such as on health measures or fiscal exceptions and reliance on external debt capabilities. Some smart cities have been finding their way between top-down and bottom-up approaches. Who should decide on what, how and when? What would be an ideal articulation of local power and central power? Can smart cities be a testbed for post-COVID-19 governance? These will remain key questions for the smart cities of tomorrow. 4. Fully leveraging the acceleration of digital transformation by increasing smart cities’ responsiveness both to their citizens’ needs and to the new opportunities created by technological innovations. Cities are at the forefront of our collective fight against global emergencies. Smart cities are the ideal testbed to assess how technology can help make our lives better and more sustainable, while strengthening our collective ability to address current and future emergencies. Resilience and responsiveness are hence two sides of the same coin. Since, however, the engagement of citizens remains the key ingredient for sustainable changes in smart cities, human-centric design and management will continue to be distinctive traits of successful smart cities. Various approaches will continue to prevail in this regard, reflecting the choices but also the culture, history, demography and geography of individual cities. We need to keep track of these approaches, identify their commonalities and extract the key ingredients of their success. 5. Strengthening the human and talent base of smart cities. The pandemic also redefined talent mobility. The combination of travel restrictions and ubiquitous online collaborative tools gave a clear advantage to well-connected places like smart cities. The same processes also stressed the importance and value of diversity in the workplace: in a virtual environment, working with a collaborator from a nearby city is not very different from working with an expert from another continent. Designing and managing the human-centric smart cities of tomorrow will require multiple combinations of a wide array of talents and competencies: architects, urban designers, city managers, but

4 For example, recent efforts to distill various efforts to a common time-based scale, e.g. around “20-minute neighborhoods” ( offer many fertile perspectives in that regard.

Made with FlippingBook. PDF to flipbook with ease