Smart Cities: Concept, Challenges and Ecosystem
TL;DR – Smart city is newly introduced concept that takes into account not only just the building process, but the aftermath effect.

A smart city is the hallmark of human innovation to counter challenges faced by previous human innovations. Take your conventional urban heat island for example. The temperature of New Orleans in 2017 reached an all-time high of about 68–77°F due to massive carbon emissions, along with glass buildings causing a concentration of heat in the metropolis.

An initiative carried out by The Trust for Public Land’s Climate-Smart CitiesTM involves the creation of a GIS-driven tool that acts as a data bank for city planners to use when designing climate-friendly plans. This is one of the many examples of smart city solutions to curb problems caused by communities of the past.

During the previous  GEC Summit 2017, we were graced by the presence of three innovators that plan to make the smart city concept accessible to as many communities as possible. One of which was Rainmaking Innovations’ GEC Lab. The organisation carried the philosophy that the responsibility of creating a smart city should not fall on the government alone. In fact, Rainmaking Innovations, through its Rainmaking URBAN programme, adopts a practice in which the firm connects startups’ innovative ideas with corporations’ capital in the effort to create smart cities that can solve many of today’s urban dwellers’ problems.

In another GEC Lab, a forum was held with various notable figures. With the title “Cybersecurity: Staying Safe in a Smart World”, the forum focused on the concerns of security in urban living and how smart city innovations can perhaps solve them. Among many, the concerns raised were the statistic that thousands of malware are developed every day. The forum then looked into Cyberjaya as a model smart city whereby such threats and real-life ones can be dealt with via a cohesive and community-driven data bank.

Another GEC Lab focusing on smart cities centered around dealing with issues caused by climate change. Kotchakorn Voraakhom, a landscape architect by practise, introduced her recent project, Centenary Park in Bangkok that focuses on making the city porous. Bangkok, being a flood-prone city, can benefit from the park as it incorporates innovations such as a green-roof and a declining design of which the lower end acts as a raincatching mechanism.

Smart cities do not necessarily have to be tech-driven. A city that has revolutionary mechanisms and practises to incentivise a healthier and sustainable living is, by definition, a smart city. With the rise of market disruptors and a global market that is friendly towards sustainable ideas, we are on the verge of new concepts that can make our cities smarter, more sustainable and friendlier towards the environment.


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