What does it take to make a city “smart”? Not intellectual, but make traffic lights respond to traffic, have buses alert people if they’re running a few minutes behind, and large corporate buildings comfortable for all its occupants. Journalist Phil Patton offers a nice review of the takeaways from National Building Museum‘s “Intelligent Cities” symposium which looked at these questions and more in order to design a better, smarter future city; among the many takeways:
What is critical in making cities “smart” is not just data, it seems, but clear, accessible data that is often used for purposes government may never have dreamed of. Early in the symposium, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that information to make cities smart was about “making it easier to do the right thing.”
Once-utopian ideas are now feasible, such as notions dreamed up at the MIT Smart Cities program, formerly headed by the late William Mitchell, author of City of Bits. “Smart parking places” that are RF-tagged could cut the energy wasted by circling vehicles. And systems that allow for hailing taxis and jitneys by mobile phone can provide “infill” transportation between private car and mass transit.
At the same time, there is concern about data that can make cities smart: fear of information used to justify policies imposed in a top-down way, and fear of loss of privacy.
I’ve covered smart meters and “smart” monitoring of bridges and in cars before, so I’ve always thought of this kind of municipal monitoring exclusive to roadways or utilities.That last takeaway brought up a tough question for me: What data are you comfortable sharing with a municipality in order get a better experience navigating through and functioning in your community?