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Competition growing as smart cities gain ground

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City planners need to build communities for the happiness of people for the future is not about country versus country but smart cities competing with smart cities, says Jorge Saraiva, Smart Cities Adviser, European Union. “When people are happy, they are more resilient and recover faster against diseases and hard times. They live longer almost 15 years and be much more productive. In the future, it’s going to be cities competing with cities not countries with countries. The cities should be a source of happiness because it’s a good for the prosperity and happiness of its residents,” Saraiva said. He pointed out that what makes people happier is the social interaction. “That is the root cause of the happiness. If you want to design and build city for happiness, you need to focus on designing communities; a place where people connect and interact irrespective of the diversity of the people. Happier people means more trust they have on the neighbours and it speeds up the business and prosperity of every business and community,” he noted.

Saraiva was addressing the audience on “Smart design: the essence of happy and efficient citizens and residents” topic at the Gitex Technology Week at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday. The mega event will run till Thursday. “Quality of life is going down and down because in the city you wake up early in the morning, drive car for 2 hours in traffic to drop your kids to school and go to office; then again you pick your children from school and head home. People spend 4 hours driving on the roads – that is not quality of life, that is not city design. In fact, it is the city designed for cars – not for people. Future cities cannot be designed and built this way. Cities should be designed for people and this is why many existing cities are not sustainable. Cars using just 6 hours for parking lots is not what we should be doing as smart city planners,” Saraiva said while addressing the audience at the conference. Giving a welcome address, Philip Bane, managing director, Smart Cities Council, said smart city is all about building communities.

According to United Nations, there are 7.6 billion in the world, which will increase to 8.6 billion by 2030 and 10 billion by 2050. The global population is projected to reach 11.2 billion by 2100 – just when the humanity is expected to step on the Mars. “The most dangerous part is that this population is dramatically shifting to cities. By 2050, 6.4 billion people will be living in the cities. It continues to escalate to reach 80 per cent. Those cities which don’t have sustainable model, will lose a lot of resources. This is why UN said, guys, cities are not sustainable and we need to build smart cites,” said Saraiva. “You need to design cities not only for people but need to involve people to design those cities. That is the reason why we call smart cites are smart communities in EU. We are involving people in the design of the cities because this way they are not only giving you information what is good and bad but also thinking what should be and should not be part of their neighbours. Because citizens are the end users.

“No cities are equal. When you start building cities, you need to know what is their soul or DNA. Cities will have to stand up for their own contribution to the globalised world. People in the future will be migrating between cities and that is why they want to be recognised as part of the city. People should be involved to add value to the cities. Cities are all about people; people are the engine of the future economies – not machines. Cities should promote themselves as brand,” he concluded.

Harshul Joshi, senior vice-president for cyber advisor services, DarkMatter, said cyber security is a critical piece of smart city.

“Lives of residents of smart cities will be at stake if cyber security is compromised. We simply cannot put resilience and safety at the backburner. If the cyber security of any sector or city is compromised, it can bring the city to its knees. But no one can bring a city to its knees if we have cyber security in place. Next world war will not be physical – but cyber war,” Joshi said while addressing the conference. “We are opening up cities, therefore, we have to be smart. The 5 pillars of cyber resilience is to prepare/identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. If one entity comes under attack, the whole city can come to its knees,” he said while addressing the audience at Gitex Technology Week.

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