‘Smart cities’ are on the rise, but are they really ‘smart’ or just another term for ‘urban renewal’?
Posted On July 12, 2021
By Paul McGlashan”Smart cities” is a catchall term for urban renewal programs designed to make cities safer, more walkable, and less expensive.
It can mean a new bridge or new streetcape, a public park, or even new schools.
“Smart” in this context means that a new city’s smart infrastructure can take advantage of the latest technologies and innovations to improve safety and reduce congestion.
The Urban Renewal Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to smart cities, says it aims to bring smart infrastructure to cities worldwide by 2030.
But the term itself is controversial.
“There’s been a huge push in the past few years to bring urban renewal to the forefront of our thinking,” said Urban Renewing Alliance Executive Director Andrew Zimbalist.
“The question of whether it’s smart or not is a really difficult one.
The real question is: Can we make smart cities better?”
What is smart?
Urban renewal projects have become increasingly popular in the United States and other countries, including China, India, Australia, and the U.K. The concept dates back to the early 20th century, when cities across Europe were rebuilding after World War I. In the United Kingdom, the Great War had left London in ruins and many of the city’s streets had been damaged.
The British government had decided that a smart city was essential, and so in 1912 the National Development Corporation began funding urban renewal.
While it didn’t initially include anything like the urban renewal techniques found in smart cities today, in the early years of the 20th Century, it did begin to make the idea of smart cities a reality.
In the early 1900s, the National Planning Association and the London Council of Housing adopted the slogan “the city in the city.”
By the early 1920s, however, the term had been widely discredited.
A key difference between the two concepts is that smart cities don’t rely on a city’s infrastructure to be as safe or efficient as traditional ones, such as buses or trains.
Rather, they are built to be smarter, more efficient, and cheaper.
Smart cities are also more likely to be designed around people, rather than just cars.
They tend to be larger and more modern than traditional urban renewal schemes.
And smart infrastructure is often designed to support existing public infrastructure or new projects, rather that replacing it with something completely new.
This may be the case in London, where the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was founded in 1852 and the borough is the oldest continuously inhabited urban area in the world.
London’s smart city strategy was launched in 1997, with the goal of “improving the health and quality of life of Londoners through smart infrastructure,” according to a city official.
Kensington and Leicester, the largest and second-most populous London borough, launched their smart city plan in 2012, a move which was widely praised at the time.
But the smart city project has been controversial in recent years, with critics saying it is only a partial solution to the citys problems.
One of the most popular criticisms is that the smart cities approach does not necessarily solve the city s biggest problems.
The problem, they say, is that it is not clear how to achieve a sustainable city without the need for a large, centralised infrastructure like buses or metro lines.
It is also possible that smart city ideas are merely “the latest version of a long-standing urban renewal program that was a success in some countries but failed in others,” according a recent report by the Institute of Public Policy.
Critics also point to the fact that smart projects often involve building new roads and roads are often not connected to existing public transport.
These are all issues that the public has a right to be concerned about, Zimbalgist said.
What is the debate about?
In a 2015 report, the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPPRD) argued that smart urban planning is largely the province of governments and not the people.
They argue that it would be more effective to work with the private sector to create new, connected public transport, for example by building a “transit network that would be as good or better than existing public transit systems in most cities, which are already built.”
IPPRDs report found that in cities like London, the most successful urban renewal strategy was to develop a network of green, bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads that connected public spaces to each other and to existing roads.
According to the report, these green, mixed-use corridors could be made safer by building better cycle tracks, and could help reduce traffic accidents and pollution by improving pedestrian safety.
Furthermore, the report found, London’s smart cities could help improve health and safety, by providing safe walking and cycling routes, and by reducing pollution.
Urban smart projects are also