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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsWhat does “smart” mean? In the post-truth era, some concepts are broadly spread. But… with different meanings. Smart does not mean thousands of sensors, nor an exponential increase in data flows. A strong approach to the Smart concept applied to our society refers to “use information to save energy and materials and to increase the resilience before changes”. Thus, it does not have a quantitative, but rather a qualitative meaning.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsUnderstanding a Smart City implies a systemic approach. A city performs as an open system with a constant exchange of materials and energy with its surroundings. Based on that metabolic balance, the city could gain complexity indefinitely as long as there are enough resources and sink. Otherwise, the system (the city) collapses. This is the reason behind the statement that “there is no Smart City without Smart Rural”. The scope of the city has to be extended to the region where most resources and waste are exchanged, so that, together, they try to be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of energy, water and food production, through the use of local materials, local manufacturing of products and services needed by the society.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsIt is not about being isolated from the world, but on the contrary, it is about becoming independent in terms of resources in order to interact with other self-sufficient communities in a fair way. This self-sufficient paradigm is based on a broad ICT infrastructure of sensors for data gathering, communication, storage and harmonisation in a neutral, secure manner, and the protection of both consumers and their privacy.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 secondsBesides the technological layer, there are non-technical aspects that are an intrinsic part of the smart city concept. First of all, a proper regulation and a legal framework are necessary to develop the city of the future. The utilities arena has been historically high-regulated. New technical options and consumer choices are overtaking some constraints but, legislation being outdated, they cannot be scaled up as they should. Clear examples are prosumers, active demand response strategies, local energy communities, and others. In this context, cities are called to be real innovation hubs at a real scale to push the new active consumer and boosting new partnerships between people and public or private organisations.

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 secondsThe collaborative economy based on zero marginal cost services (such as renewable energy) is dramatically changing the way the energy market is conformed. And last, but not least, there is the citizen. People are permanently attracting all sorts of products and services and, somehow, we are really fed-up. Being provided of basic services in a collaborative way, that requires also your active contribution, is a social challenge. There is a trade-off between being conscious and making thing as easy as possible. Defining the real value proposition and the user experience people are willing to engage with, is crucial for a successful smart city deployment.

Skip to 3 minutes and 39 secondsBecoming a smart city is not just a matter of intentions. It is really a complex approach to modernity that takes time and implies a radical transformation of our way of living, the way we organise ourselves and our communities, how social participation is shaped, and the new contract between rural and urban areas. New ICT and energy technologies can enable these possibilities, but only the people can lead this process.

What is a smart city?

Smart does not mean thousands of sensors, nor an exponential increase in data flows. A strong approach to the Smart concept applied to our society refers to “using information to save energy and materials and to increase its resilience before changes”. Thus, it does not have a quantitative, but rather a qualitative meaning.

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This video is from the free online course:

Smart Grids for Smart Cities: Towards Zero Emissions

InnoEnergy