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Setting a future agenda for smart cities

Professor Amy Fletcher reflects on how the smart cities discourse has shaped academic literature.
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So, the goal isn’t just to be efficient, though that’s important, it’s not just to be safer, though that’s important, it’s to bring people back into the city centre, connect technology, people, and innovation, and also ensure that multiple cohorts of citizens are included, not just the wealthiest and not just those who are comfortable working in the tech sector. So, Smart City uses technology but it’s really about people and it’s really about revitalising urban areas. [Chris Vas]: So, do you see particular drivers in how the research has shaped up over the last ten years or so in the context of Smart Cities?
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As we move on from that though, smaller cities – one of the ones I’m looking at is Chattanooga, Tennessee – they take the notion of the Smart City but they’ve realised that they don’t necessarily have that MIT or Harvard, though they do have a good university but it’s not kind of that, and they don’t necessarily have the big corporations. So, a city like Chattanooga takes the basic idea of a Smart City but it’s actually built the Smart City around more publicly focused organisations. So, the University of Tennessee Chattanooga is clearly a part of it, but they began the Smart City, they based it around the public utility. So, again, there’s certain things that translate, the skilful use of technology.
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But what’s interesting is the way, yes, the technological platform might be relatively consistent across each Smart City, you use sensors, you use the internet of things, you use artificial intelligence, big data, but again, what really seems to make it work is being responsive to your local community and also thinking hard about what are the base line institutions you can use to build the Smart City over time. [Chris Vas]: So, from a research perspective, where do you think the gaps lie? And if we were to set a research agenda on Smart Cities going forward for the next five or ten years, what would that research agenda look like?
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So, I still think there’s a bit of a tendency in the broader community – and it’s easy for all of us to fall into that fallacy – that Smart City by definition means all your industries producing software. It doesn’t have to be that. You use the technology, you use the software, but that can go in a lot of innovative directions, such as biotech, for example. [Chris Vas]: So, here in New Zealand, in Aotearoa, where do you think the Smart City applications would best fit? As low hanging fruit. You know, if you were given a pot of money and said, you know, where would you deploy some of these technologies or address, you know, wicked problems from a Smart City perspective?
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So, again, when you’re talking about local politics and urban development, it’s not always the most glamorous sounding efforts but it’s the ones that can make a real difference for people.

In this segment, Professor Amy Fletcher reflects on how the smart cities discourse has shaped academic literature.

Using some of the United States cities as examples, she delivers a distinct perspective on how the uniqueness of communities can yield smart city successes.

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Smart Cities: Social Change Through Technology

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