Report: The next age of megacities

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Megacities need to balance social, economic and environmental pressures in a sustainable way, while providing essential services and a good quality of life for the citizens. Realizing this potential requires a holistic, proactive and collaborative approach at all levels of society, from city planners, businesses and citizens, using a city management system to achieve a common vision.

This is where ICT can play an important role. By mining the vast amount of data produced by the array of connected things (or citizens) within any megacity, ICT is instrumental in the efficient day-to-day management of the city, but perhaps more importantly, provides the mechanisms to support balanced views when implementing solutions that affect several interconnected areas.

In a previous report, we discussed the strong parallels between the challenges and opportunities of megacities at key stages in their development – or in other words as they mature in terms of socioeconomic status and infrastructure. This second report takes a closer look at how the largest cities in the world can use ICT to address their evolving challenges through a city management model comprising of knowledge reasoning, sustainable city models, community and business participation, and dynamic city operations centers.

MWC 2013 model

The model is merely a base for discussions and should be seen as a companion to the Connected Megacity demo that was presented at the Mobile World Congress recently. The demo concretely illustrates how megacities can respond to events as they occur and proactively prepare for future scenarios, while taking into account the relationships between diverse stakeholders. It gave an idea of how feeds of data can be combined and together with situational knowledge lead to informed actions and intelligent recommendations for both citizens and public services.

MWC 2013 report

This report puts the aspects of knowledge reasoning and dynamic city operations centers that the demo highlights into a broader model of city management. As an example, the importance of community and business participation is emphasized. City dwellers are central in all this, not only because it is their quality of life that really matters but also because they can contribute with valuable information as well as support the city by innovation and changed behavior. This is an aspect that may be particularly relevant in emerging megacities as the lack of infrastructure may increase the need for citizen action and contribution. Another area that we think gives a more complete picture of city management is the long-term perspective that the sustainable city models represents. These shared visions of a better future should be used as guides for solutions, potentially including ICT, that aims at truly transforming the megacities.

Download the report here

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