1. The smart city is all about people

The smart city is all about people

Since 2005, the London School of Economics has been orchestrating the Urban Age conference series. This year it was held in London. Opened by city mayor Boris Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the event began with the two men launching a GBP 50 million (USD 80 million) investment in an area in London known as the “Silicon Roundabout.”

The investment will create a destination to support startups, provide classrooms to train entrepreneurs, help young people get the skills they need, and provide a focal point for Tech City, a tech-based hub in London.

The conference included a range of renowned urban thought leaders such as Saskia Sassen, Ed Glaeser, Ricky Burdett and Carlo Ratti. Many small startups, architects and urban planners attended the conference, as well as some big tech companies such as Siemens and Cisco. On behalf of Ericsson, I was happy to be able to present our thoughts on smartphone development and the impact it may have on cities. These findings were extracted from the recent Ericsson Mobility Report.

From the discussions that took place at the event, it was evident that broadband connectivity is expected to be a fundamental ingredient when it comes to urban evolution. However, what was interesting was the move away from the “smart city” concept to a larger focus on people. By providing technology, people will innovate and be creative. Many interesting questions were raised, such as, if we just focus on getting the city to be “smarter,” what does that mean? The smart city concept tends to set goals for the city, but can a city really have an overall goal? What is the end goal for London, Mumbai or Tokyo?

We will not necessarily know what the urban age will lead to, but what is clear is that mobility, broadband and the cloud will be key ingredients in the evolution of cities.

Written by Patrik Cerwall

Patrik is a strategic marketing director within Ericsson’s Business Unit Networks. He heads the company's Urban Life program, which focuses on the effects of urbanization and the role of ICT in the economic, social and sustainable growth of cities.

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