Happy Cities versus Smart Cities (first part) - Alberto Montiel

Smart Cities: A Fashion Passing for a concept almost eternal?

"Smart City" is fashionable, Very fashionable, although most of us don't know very well what means (let's face it). Providers telecommunications, the suppliers of energy, transport companies, the urban designer, architects, various experts ... I'm afraid neither they know. However, all of them feed the expectation created by the almost magical term.

Town councils begin to join to enthusiasm, surely with the secret hope of encouraging the investments and thus raise some more. But is all this uproar justified? It is possible, but still things could be much better. 
Maybe the Smart cities are not, after all, the last word in design of cities. I will try to explain here some of the most fashionable terms ... and others who are not so; even I will allow myself to present some suggestion fruit of my crazy imagination. Make yourself comfortable

The modern city

The city would be, above all, the space where activity takes place, economic, political, cultural, financial, commercial,... but above all, Is where they live and interact large numbers of people (citizens), having specific places (such as squares and public buildings) that facilitate communication and social life.
Perhaps the biggest difference between ancient and modern cities, not so much the concept as the size of these, as the tandem energy-technology, has allowed in much less space will support the lives of many more people, thanks to the constant flow of food from places every time further away, as well as from the vital energy, also produced in very distant places, sometimes hundreds of kilometers.

The Virtual City

Today the real city is added to the virtual one, more flexible and colorful, but also flatter, less intense, more predictable, and at the end also more boring (Which is an unforgivable defect). Both form a new reality:
Citizens also interact Virtual form, among them, with the administration, with their places of work, among colleagues, clients and companies, etc.
Geolocation is a meeting point between both worlds; the expectations and needs of the people and the offer of the true city (culture, gastronomy, entertainment as well as services of all kinds).

The city seen in a kaleidoscope

In recent years, following a line coming from as far as the very existence of cities, we have tried to analyze the city from different optics to try to find out how to make them better places (in the different aspects analyzed, urbanistic, energy, application of New Information Technologies, creative cities, etc.).
Today, we can rethink almost everything, and the concept and utility of the city did not could be an element alien to change.

Compact and diffuse cities

Salvador Rueda has been one of the scholars of urbanism that has most analyzed the compact city concept so typical of the Mediterranean area, in opposed to the characteristic diffuse city of North America, which forces to travel long distances daily for almost any activity. The diffuse city means more cars, more displacements and more asphalt and infrastructures for road traffic.

Smart Cities

Smart cities are a concept that integrates the use of new technologies, Information and communication, energy efficiency, e-government, transparency In management (Open Data), the management of urban waste and recycling,etc., configuring a structure technologically advanced management which should - theoretically - produce a general benefit. No need to digress much -I believe - to conclude that it is a step which could be (sometimes) necessary ... but not essential, much less vital. Although the words efficiency and sustainability - among others equal elegant - are repeated relentlessly as sacred mantras, many of these “projects" may not be sustained nor driven by reasoning especially consistent.

Transition Towns

These cities are small and medium-sized locations where they are experiencing new forms of organization, economic development based on more democratic and in a technology less dependent on energy inputs as fossil fuels or nuclear power.
The reason for such initiatives is the recognition of the potentially tremendous impact on the
will produce the supposedly close Peak of the production of fossil fuels (Peak Oil) that will in a few years a brutal famine of the energy, and especially of diesel and Gasolines, drastically curbing the globalization and economic growth.
These cities are trying to prepare, adapting organizational structures less dependent on fossil fuels and take to reduce the needs of transport, recover forms of production, ecological agriculture, reduce dependence on high technology, etc.

Creative Cities

Nor is there a clear consensus on for the definition of Creative City, however we would agree on that cities must be poles of "creative economy", surpassing the industrial economy in the same way as industrial economy outpaced the agricultural economy.
The world is probably for those who can better adapt to the challenges, and the industrial economy can no longer meet these challenges. Growth Is neither desirable nor feasible, and now growth in quality of life (without economic growth), which is no utopia unattainable, is a smart strategy, desirable and acceptable.
Creative Cities would be those in which the new forms of business (technological or otherwise), business in mesh, projects, social and cultural life, attracting professionals and talented people who should supported because they have a possitive impact on of the community.

Urban environment

The city is too often synonymous of asphalt, cement and steel, in addition of cars, smoke ... and even too many people gather in little space. Therefore the spaces or green areas are used as a powerful claim In municipal electoral campaigns ... too often with more cheeky than honesty. Nevertheless, not only gardens live the urbanite; recently being started to hear with increasing frequency of existence of urban orchards or shared orchards, which is good news. Another way to enter a bit plants in the city are the vertical gardens.

Being Sustainable, Innovative and Efficient is not the Most Important

It is about being coherent, free and informed (with real options), to be happy (to have a standard of comfort minimum, of a playful cultural, healthy environment, beautiful,cleansed). It is about offering citizens the elements necessary for express his talents, and been rewarded for it.