Successful smart cities and cleverly structured programs to promote them are shaping as a best approach to mitigate urbanization failures, and solve, along the way, socio-political risks, economic instability, sustainability crisis, climate variability and an estimated $2.5t budgetary gap in aid programs related to the 17 x 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Thriving smaller or city-centred states such as Singapore, Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland, New-Zealand, Scandinavian and Baltic states already strengthen the case for a successful and stable world articulating around Smart Cities. In the same vein, a century of Italian constitutional and political instabilities act as a powerful modus tollens argument for Smart Cities, retrospectively challenging the alleged benefits of assimilating thriving city states into far less stable upper-level nations.
The nullification of physical distances brought by hyper-connectivity coupled with increasing global trends in citizens’ disengagement from public institutions at state, national, federal or regional block levels, are polarizing smart cities as new centres of governance, leading to their advent in the mid to longer term.
This pervasive geopolitical shift has direct implications on how global governance, foreign policy and foreign aid strategies might be reshaped from their current top-down ~200 nations scope to a distributed bottom-up grassroot ecosystem of 5,000 Smart Cities (based on the number of cities worldwide with a population over 100k) or 3,000,000 ones (with a population over 5k). The scale of the task commands new public-private foreign aid models, combining long-term viability/sustainability of programs with speed of execution and compelling maximisation strategies in relation to social/environmental impact of initiatives.
While existing thriving city-centred states strengthen the case for Smart Cities and illustrate the positive outcomes derived from greater smartness, such cities have historically evolved toward this stage; such progressive organic urban evolution provides little insights on best practices for much faster change management strategies to be applied to fast-growing urban centres which are yet to adopt a smart journey.
Anecdotal evidences indicate that smaller-size cities are successfully adopting smartness strategies at a faster pace than larger ones, because of, inter alia, proportionally higher energy footprints compared to larger peers, leading to greater returns on smartness.
This dichotomy in adoption dynamics between larger vs smaller urban centres highlights the importance of grassroot-driven, segmented and tailored approaches to city smartness.
At a city level, opting for a wide portfolio of lean, agile and grassroot micro-projects is proving far more effective than larger, costlier, one-size-fits-all and ultimately detrimental waterfall programs: case studies such as the under-occupied Mongolian Ordos City, Chinese Chenggong District and many other cases in China substantiate how larger programs often translate to wasteful ghost cities scenarios, and fail to achieve their original smartness goals.
Convergences between technology domains mandate the need for a holistic Smart City framework through which lenses a portfolio of micro-projects might be optimised via pooling strategies and subsequent associative emergent properties. Convergences between PropTech and Transportation pointing to 3D mobility models, or DLT, IoT and AI convergence, pointing to innovative data marketplaces, are some of the examples of the benefits derived from a combined Smart City domains approach.
Considering the dynamic nature of Smart City domains and underpinning technologies, highly focussed city-based start-up acceleration programs including cohort bootcamps and other ecosystem building mechanisms emerge as an ideal grassroot bottom-up and g/localised pathway toward Smart Cities.
Advancity is a clustered program (multiple cities tied together by a common socio-cultural, geopolitical, economic or environmental thread) articulating around a constantly updated 20+ sectorial framework, combined with proven approaches to innovation and acceleration. Advancity program instances typically span a period of 3 years across all cities in a cluster.
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