Will you build the city that you need to live in?

February, 2018

There is a need for new thinking in urban development. What is it that a city really needs? How does it respond to current and future challenges?

Antoni Vives, CEO of The City Transformation Agency, Barcelona, and the former Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, spearheaded a tweet chat on ‘The need for new thinking’ under the banner of ‘Cities on the horizon’ in the tweet chat conducted on 5th February.

The discussion comes at a time when we must stop and think about the cities that we are creating, and the ones we will leave behind for future generations. Are they places that we really want to live in?
Take a look.

Q. 1. How do we make the cities that we really want to live in?

Antoni Vives - Cities have to go back to their founding principles: sociability, walkability, community driven. We must then identify the main challenges, and how to tackle them: job creation, opportunities for all generation. #CitiesOnTheHorizon have to use technology as an enabler, not as an aim in itself.

Q. 2. How can we inspire and include citizens in the city-building process?

Antoni Vives - #CitiesOnTheHorizon understand that the digital society allows us to have a simultaneous conversation with all citizens, while tackling social issues. Active citizenship becomes for the first time a transformational asset, and not just empty assumptions.

Q.3. What are some of the best sustainability practices from #Barcelona you would like to see being adapted by other cities?

Antoni Vives - The mixed usage of clean energy (sun, wind, geothermal), plus an efficient waste-to-energy system are key to rethink the way in which we produce energy for our communities. #CitiesOnTheHorizon must also think about distributed energy production, using “the internet of the energy” as a model. In fact #CitiesOnTheHorizon will see how sooner than later each building will produce the energy that it needs to facilitate all the services to the community. Energy companies, rather than fighting this movement, should understand that servicing this model is their future.

Q. 4 What role can young #innovators play in building future cities?

Antoni Vives - #CitiesOnTheHorizon are about innovation and creativity. The good news is that it can happen everywhere, no matter where we are. For the first time, 2nd and 3rd tier cities have their chance to beat the big players (megacities), fatter and less agile.

Q. 5 How do you address the diversity of the citizens and their specific needs?

Antoni Vives - #CitiesOnTheHorizon are based on diversity and its influence on how to determine what we want to become. Digital society is based in this personal/community approach.

Q. 6. What are some instances of great citizen participation in city building as per you?

#CitiesOnTheHorizon will work in participation to determine city services we have never thought about. This is the power of the digital society. For example: severe disabled will have a super active role through esports in defining new ways of social insertion.

Q.7. What can we learn from #cities #worldwide?

#CitiesOnTheHorizon is based on collaboration. We have to learn from one another, sharing data and experiences. This is why I proposed the creation of interexchange platforms, an internet of cities. #CitiesOnTheHorizon must work on models such as the one proposed by @cityprotocolsoc or @c40cities in which cities become real clients of the industry.

Q. 8. . How can digital technology get more people engaged in local democracy, support well-being and #health and make moving around the city easier?

#CitiesOnTheHorizon and democracy walk hand in hand. Cities invented democracy and today we must face the challenge of community building based on open social values. Smartness is about them! We haven’t talked that much about mobility. #CitiesOnTheHorizon must mistrust miraculous treatments. The only solution for better mobility is betting for public transportation and walking. Then, technology will improve junctions. But make sure you design a city for pedestrians.

Q. 9. How do you address the issue of inclusivity of culture within city development?

Antoni Vives - Wow, this is a great question and to me one of the biggest challenges: we cannot talk about smartness if #CitiesOnTheHorizon don’t contemplate culture as its core. Digital society allows any culture, of any size, to have its role. In addition, #CitiesOnTheHorizon can really end with the concept if periphery, no matter if social, or personal, or physical. This is a real cultural revolution, but we must be bold.

Q.10. What elements do you factor for scale in the planning stage for smart cities?

This is a very good question. #CitiesOnTheHorizon have to combine a strong long term vision with quick wins at both social and city transformation level. Sidewalks and nice smart public spaces are key. I strongly recommend knowing the Nala recuperation project of Pune.

One of the most pressing issues addressed was recognising challenges. Antoni guarded against the dangers of expecting miraculous changes. The process is slow and must be tackled through job creation, opportunities, health and distributed energy production.

Technology is an enabler and rather than looking at it as the final goal, private bodies, the state and individuals themselves must look at ways of harnessing it.

A smart city cannot be truly smart unless it incorporates the city’s culture. Digital technology plays a role here by engaging citizens and inviting them to participate in this community building exercise.

The only way forward is to learn from cities across the world – collaborating, sharing data and ideas. There are many lessons and sustainability practices to be learned from Barcelona’s city model itself. This is where tier 2 and 3 cities have an advantage since they are more agile and still growing.

Catch the tweet chat action at:-