Smart City Strategy

Report written by Kane McIntyre

On January 27, 2017, the LYAC were joined by city planner Mark Johnson and urban designer Jerzy Smolarek from the City of London, who shared their workshop material for the initiative of a new technological era for the city of London. According to Mark and Jerzy, a smart city is the strategy to London’s new opportunities for technology, stronger connections, and to improve the overall quality of life. They call this strategy Future City.

Who Should Read This?

  • People interested in the city of London’s development.
  • Londoner’s interested in the future of London’s technology and services.
  • Londoner’s interested in social connection and new innovative opportunities.

What is Future City?

The aim of Future City is to use new forms of information and communications technology to promote economic development, civic innovation and the sharing of data to create a more functional city and to achieve greater technological advances, infrastructure and connection. This is to track population growth and competition among cities, socially and economically to ensure Londoner’s overall quality of life.The Future City Strategy focuses on four pillars: smart living, smart infrastructure, smart economy and smart decisions/governance.

The idea of Future City is also to create technologies support multitasking, interconnected functions. For example, apps that keep up to date on parking, traffic, and that stream live operations of city planning and initiatives. People can report problems and connect to solutions quickly. For example, citizens would be able to take a picture of an issue and send it to the city so the city can geo-locate the problem. An app could also potentially help coordinate and communicate cultural events to help both residents of and tourists to the City of London, creating an open sensibility for all citizens and tourists alike.

Examples from Other Smart Cities

  • Chicago has an urban sensing project collecting real-time data on the city people, bikers and intersections so they can make better decisions on infrastructure.
  • Nashville tracks neighborhoods with a data platform on demographics.
  • The future city planners also gave the example of surveillance cameras watching over bike thefts in the United Kingdom as a crime deterrant

Mark and Jerzy split the councillors into two groups and asked them questions to discuss among themselves. Here are some of the thoughts and answers across the two groups:

What three problems do you have in your daily life in London that technology could solve?

  • Updating Google maps with road construction slowdowns more often
  • Better transit apps for bus locations
  • An app for snow removal that would help people know which roads to avoid
  • Cleaning up needles in the park
  • A lack of compost bins
  • People with disabilities have difficulty traveling up steep sidewalks
  • Knowing the availability of public spaces such as a library or the gym for free use.
  • Confusion about roads or roundabouts

What are some examples of smart city technology that would improve your quality of life?

  • More visible indication of available parking spaces
  • Synchronizing LTC bus transfers
  • City-wide Wi-Fi for more populated areas

Have you heard of any smart city technology in other cities?

  • Various transit technologies including bullet trains and the giant bus that drives over cars in China
  • Underground bicycle parking systems in Japan
  • Conveyor belts for cars
  • Miniature homes and folding homes
  • Augmentative/Virtual reality QR codes that allow citizens to view the city’s history or information about places in the city
  • A bill and tax pay app program that allows easy access to manage bills from the city

Reporter’s Notes

The more we improve on technology, the more people think it is rational to take advantage and make their lives more effortless. My ideal of a smart city is a balanced city of economy and creative innovation for the people. People may be dependent on the city, but where are the opportunities to be dependent on ourselves to be innovative on our projects? My main question is, how does a Smart City make us think? How is a Smart City designed to make us think for ourselves if we are to make better decisions in our life choices? We need to think outside the box and bring creative innovations and diversity into London. When it comes down to it, is a Smart City going be connecting the city more than the people in it? I believe in smart goals for passions rather than the bigger and better technological innovation.  We need balance where all people can believe they contribute to the city. It’s the people who need to thrive and come alive.

For More Information

Mark and Jerzy ask Londoners to email them at mjohnson@london.ca or jsmolare@london.ca. Londoners can learn more about their strategies at engagelondon.ca.

Big Questions

  • What kind of new technologies can people incorporate?
  • What new technology can people engage with the community?
  • What technologies will lead us to smarter decisions?

Things We Still Need to Learn

  • What can London lead in?
  • What Is London leading in now?
  • Is a competitive city a better city?
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