It was interesting for me to note that the Economist, in its Sept. 7th edition, had an article on “Clever cities – The multiplexed metropolis”, touching on Smart cities as the cities of the future. New cities can plan and develop along the lines of smart phones by relying on computer networks and grids to Operate, Administer and Manage governmental tasks. It would then be possible to gather data and have it made available online for people to use in ways unbeknownst as of today. Gamification of some of the processes within the city ties in wonderfully if the smart cities do come into existence. Indications are that some cities are already implementing a few concepts. The corresponding potential pitfalls were captured in the Bruce Willis movie – Die Hard 4 in which the bad guys take over a city’s online grid system causing wide spread chaos. Of course, in a secure network and process, the bad day never comes to pass!
Intelligently done game concepts built into the fabric of the smart city will result in improved services and quality of life. For example, similar to the reward miles in air travel, introduction of a system in the public transport system can get the majority of the users involved and make the city more inclusive. Using public transport has benefits for the city – less traffic on the roads, less pollution, less road rage, less accidents. Cities are made up of people just like projects are essentially people doing tasks. Games are fun – smart cities can be fun! Agility and the ability to adapt are key ingredients of a success mantra. A city’s ability to adapt to changing trends will dictate its success measured in terms of the quality of life in the city.
It only takes one small step to start becoming a smart city- focus on one area. Portland in Oregon, United States has slowly but surely increased the number of cyclists on the roads over the past few years. Latest stats show that the number of young, employable people migrating to Portland has increased. More the number of people working, the better it is for the economy. The easier it becomes then to introduce a networked system of services – the economy feeds itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if Portland turns into one of the better cities to live in the world. Not that cycling is the mantra to follow for all cities. It could be crime in one city – wipe out the crime. In Bangalore, it may be as simple as wiping out the grime! Start with that and soon, whatdoyaknow? the old garden city of Bangalore, now the garbage city, may become the smart city of India. The first step to solve a problem is to begin.