The discourse on ‘Smart Cities’ is everywhere. It promises an era of innovative urban planning, driven by smart urban technologies that will make cities safer, cleaner and, above all, more efficient. Efficiency seems uncontroversial but does it make for great cities? In this book, Maarten Hajer, Director-general of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Ton Dassen, urban sustainability researcher at PBL, plea for a ‘smart urbanism’ instead of uncritically adopting ‘smart cities’.
Such smart urbanism needs to find solutions for what modern 20th century urbanism has forgotten to take into account: the ‘metabolism’ of cities – the variety of flows that connect city life to nature. What are we taking in, what are we discharging, and how efficiently are we doing that? Illustrated by 50 infographics, this book highlights both the challenges and opportunities for change. It calls for a ‘globally networked urbanism’ that allows cities worldwide to learn faster and jointly identify effective strategies. A viable 21st century planning, rather than including top-down innovation, opts to embed technology in social innovations.
This book is also published in Dutch: Slimme Steden- De opgave voor de 21e-eeuwse stedenbouw in beeld.