Promoting principles of democratic governance as essential elements of smart city ecosystems and sustainable energy solutions in the global South.
Well-governed cities have long advanced human civilization in their role as hubs of innovation, economic growth, improvements in health and general well-being of communities. Since the beginning of the 20th century, cities have experienced unprecedented growth. Today, they account for more than 70 percent of global energy consumption and about 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, rapid urbanization, especially in the global South, has been accompanied by inadequate physical infrastructure and social services, unemployment, and vulnerability to climate change, to name a few.
In recent years, solutions to these challenges have been guided by the idea of a “smart city.” Several cities across the world (e.g. Barcelona, Masdar, Copenhagen, London, Seoul, Singapore, among others) are claiming smart city status, having deployed urban development strategies, policies and financial incentives generally associated with smart city initiatives. A growing number of cities in the global South — spanning Latin America, Asia, Africa and Small Island Developing States — are pursuing their own smart city visions and road maps. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change provided an impetus in this direction by emphasizing the importance of eco-polycentric and diffused governance actions at the city level, where smart buildings, smart transportation and mobility, and smarter energy distribution play critical roles.
The symposium will:
- Raise awareness of dominant concepts guiding smart city initiatives
- Assess the roles of existing and emerging technologies such as big data, the Internet of Things and sustainable energy systems
- Deepen understanding of factors that determine the adoption of smart city and sustainable energy concepts, policies and practices
- Build consensus around the essential features of democratic smart city governance.
Defining smart cities and sustainable energy
Despite its widespread use, there is considerable disagreement on the meaning of the phrase “smart city.” What are the major concepts, practices and values guiding smart city programs? Interpretations have ranged from the abstract to the concrete. Some define the smart city as a “sociotechnical system of systems.” Others focus on technology and infrastructure aspects. A common thread running through the full spectrum of meanings is the centrality of energy as a challenge and opportunity to deliver the core functions of any city. A fundamental question arises: How well integrated are issues of energy sustainability in smart city endeavors?
Big data technologies and innovative financing
An important metric of a city’s smartness is the capacity of city management systems to generate, analyze and utilize enormous amounts of data about people’s living conditions, lifestyles and activities. However, such capabilities also enable biometric surveillance and automated policing as standard features of increasingly “intelligent” infrastructures and “nervous systems” of cities. What guidelines/standards are required to address these and other threats to human privacy and freedom? What institutional innovations are needed to enable cities to address these issues? Mobilizing financing for smart city technologies is a major challenge in the global South. What are the most promising success stories in terms of innovative financing of smart city initiatives, and how replicable are these?
Adoption of smart city concepts and policies in the global South
Research has shown that adoption of “smart city” concepts such as theme-based innovation districts, energy and water synergy parks, blue-green infrastructure, or automated monitoring and verification (M&V) depend on factors such as the level of economic development, the degree of fluidity in decision making and other properties of cities including location, population size and density. Although the general idea of a smart city originated from the high-income economies of the global North, several countries in the South have initiated similar urban development strategies. What are the main drivers behind the adoption of smart city and sustainable energy concepts and policies in the global South?
Democratic governance and the smart city
Smart city policies and programs in most developing countries have been promoted and controlled by a minority of dominant business and political interests including international property developers, domestic politicians and elites. For the most part, these stakeholders subscribe to entrepreneurial urbanization models promising quick economic and political returns to smart city investments. Given this context, what are the constraints to, and prospects for, generating new social networks and vibrant ecologies of intellectual capital by which ordinary citizens can actively engage in smart city planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation? What are the main indicators of democratic smart city governance?
November 28-29, 2017
UD Organizing Committee
- Lawrence Agbemabiese: Co-Chair
- Nii Attoh-Okine: Co-Chair
- Andrea Sarzynski
- Andreas Malikopoulos
- Daniel Rich
- David Wilson
- Gretchen Bauer
- Ismat Shah
- Jeffrey Richardson
- John Byrne
- John McNutt
- Kim Bothi
- Lado Kurdgelashvili
- Maria Aristigueta
- Philip Barnes
- Robert Opila
- Saleem Ali
Intl Advisory Committee
- Carlo Ratti,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America.
- Edwardo Moreno,
- Jesse Manuta,
Foundation for the Philippine Environment, Philippines.
- Kwasi Adarkwa,
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.
- Kyung-Jin Boo,
College of Engineering, Seoul National University.
- Mark Radka,
United Nations Environment, France.
- Tze-Luen Lin,
National Taiwan University, Taiwan.
- Xueman Wang,
World Bank, United States of America.
- Yacob Mulugetta,
University College London, United Kingdom.
- Youba Sokona,
The South Center, Switzerland.
Trabant University Center Theatre
at the University of Delaware
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