What makes a smart city smart?

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Placemarque recently sponsored Built Environment Networking’s Smart Cities conference in Oxford.

We wanted to connect with companies who look at cities differently at a time when we are considering increasing the integration of data and digital into our wayfinding.

Like others at the conference, we want to do it smartly, still considering how people are using cities and responding to that, in terms of our wayfinding, rather than trying to lead them with technology.

Julie Snell from Bristol is Open, appropriately ‘opened’ the conference and set the tone for the day by talking about how smart cities are not about technology, but about people. Technology changes but communities will also evolve…and to be smart, a city must respond to its people.

This sentiment is mirrored by outlooks from overseas, with the Danish Smart City Partnership reflecting on their vision of technology being an enabler for its people. “To help solve the challenges and improve the lives of all its citizens.”

All, being the operative word: technology must deliver what society needs, including for the old and for the vulnerable. And the only way to find out what a society needs is to consult with them – to speak to people. And then we can ask them, “How can technology help to bring this about more effectively and inclusively?”

Placemarque understands that the future of our towns and cities lies in creating places that people want to live and work and engage with: placemaking and placeshaping.

It’s important that we help residents and visitors to engage through clever signage, by giving people the information they need, when they need it – and we do this via consulting with towns and cities, the owners and users of large estates when we work on a job so that we really understand the people and can work smartly.

In smart city jargon, ‘connectivity’ shouldn’t just be about bandwidth, it should really be about connecting people, connecting communities and creating places.

If you’d like to connect with us and see if we can collaborate on some smart thinking do please call, tweet, poke, email, post, comment or even call in to our Manchester office.

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