The conceptualization of smart cities is not very recent; however, this pandemic has made the cities to reconsider the execution of their plans to cater to the new lifestyle needs.
FREMONT, CA: Redesigning cityscapes has been a prominent aspect in the process of urbanization. It is now clear that smart cities have to move beyond the Internet of Things and establish a more comprehensive approach to assimilate the social layout, economic and environmental conditions, and the cultural aspect, and build a more resilient infrastructure ensuring good health, and safety to the residents along with environmental conservation.
Addressing the mobility issues
Focus now lies in reducing traffics on roads and crowds in public transports, which are the major infection points. To address this issue, The French capital is planning to provide 650km additional cycle lanes, looking at the hike in cyclist numbers. On similar lines, the Scottish Government has announced an allocation of €10 million for cycling and walking routes. These steps would not just maintain social distancing norms and secure walking and cycling regimes but also add to environmental gains by reducing emissions. Meantime, the private sector is keen on betting on shared mobility.
Sustaining the food supply and related employment
Another key aspect for nurturing cities amidst the pandemic is sufficient stocking and distribution of food resources. The smart strategies have brought up solutions to bring consumers closer to their food. The concept of a pop-up marketplace has come up, which comprises a small number of stalls, set up in an area that can be easily assembled from where the city dwellers can purchase their necessary commodities. The UK government has initiated programs for harvesting British crops by the workers laid off due to the pandemic, thereby meeting the food demand as well as offer jobs to dismissed workers. Governments of several countries are aiming to link farmers to job seekers for saving their crop stock as well as food supply across their countries.
While it seems difficult to solve the enigma of building self-sufficient city models, smart cities like Amsterdam are aiming to deploy the doughnut model introduced by Kate Raworth. The model lists down the necessities of society including, food, water, energy, education, and the related issues of climate change, biodiversity, pollution, and others, and suggests that humans cannot disturb these boundaries. Failure in meeting social needs traps people into the hole of the doughnut while stepping beyond the ecological boundaries poses a risk of overshooting. So people need to be within limits to ensure sustainability. Housing affordability issues also accompany the rest in some of these cities.
The coming years are expecting a larger population of city dwellers. At this hour, clearly, smart cities need to grow smarter to fine-tune with the changing landscapes of the world after COVID-19.