A recent article in Wired Magazine written by Adam Davidson highlights that smaller cities not dominated by universities are attracting knowledge workers and entrepreneurs at a rate that matches or even exceeds larger cities. This is good news for the development of Smarter Cities as envisioned by IBM Corporation. By starting with smaller cities, especially those that will need to leverage a more interconnected infrastructure, the Smarter Cities movement can be modeled then tweaked for expansion to larger, more complex environments.
When married with the principles behind Sustainable Communities efforts led by EPA and HUD, these smaller cities become much more that a test bed for technology. As these cities begin to evolve in a way that attracts a more conscientious population attuned to both technology and sustainability, they become templates that a broader coalition of partners can leverage drive these principles to a high level with greater scale.
As the populations of cities continues to grow over the coming decades, city infrastructures will need to accommodate not only the influx of people but the needs of people at work. The forecast is that 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. The infrastructure issues of many cities, in their current state, will not be able to sustain this large population migration without help.
The promise of Smarter Cities as envisioned by IBM is exactly the kind of integrative support the Sustainable Growth policies and practices need to be realized within these smaller cities. Smarter Cities and Sustainable Growth are complementary ideas that must come together in order to make the city the next frontier in smart growth. As cities like Bethesda, Maryland and Lowell, Massachusetts lead the pack in revitalizing urban growth by appealing to a knowledge rich population with higher than average median household income, the technology needed to transform them into smart, sustainable metropolises is being implemented today by IBM and its Smarter Cities partners. The question is will enough cities be in a fiscal position to create a truly smarter infrastructure? That is a question though for a future post.