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The rise of the smart city

School faculty have contributed their academic expertise to a future-focused report, compiled by a partnership of educational institutions, organisations, and government bodies, which advocates for a human-focused approach to building the smart cities of the future.

BluePrint For Smart Cities

The report, launched today at the UK’s House of Lords, states that a human-centric ecosystem must be a core element of a smart city’s make-up, in a world facing significant social and environmental risks as industrialisation continues to surge.

Traffic congestion, air and water pollution, noise disruption, public safety and employment are all highlighted by the report as posing increasingly bigger risks to society and sustainability. We can utilise advanced technologies to keep cities safe and boost sustainability, however a focus on human wellbeing and quality of life should be prioritised as part of this advancement.

The report highlights two key challenges for such highly dense cities to overcome, which relate directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all (SDG8) and Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable (SDG 11).

Both, the report states, are critical for allowing urbanisation to be able to contribute to sustainable growth, and allow inclusivity, productivity and innovation to continue.

Working together towards the SDGs

Crucially, the report’s central message is that the four key stakeholders of society; university, business, government, environment must take greater strides to work together to create a smart city ecosystem which supports and enriches the lives of those living within it.

To represent this, insights from the Business School’s Professor Kieran Fernandes, Professor of Operations Management and Assistant Dean for Internationalisation, and Dr Atanu Chaudhuri, Associate Professor in Technology and Operations Management have been contributed alongside work conducted by, the World Smart Cities Forum, University of Surrey, Ripon Grammar School and the Big Innovation Centre as well as others.

In keeping with the report’s ethos, Professor Fernandes was joined at the launch by academic, business and governmental representatives, including Lord Holmes, HRH Princess Katerina of Yugoslavia, Professor Yu Xiong, Denis Guarda and Professor Birgitte Andersen.

”This report is the product of 18 months of dedicated work of an interdisciplinary research project. Our study shows that social contract is the most essential element to develop a smart city.” Professor Fernandes, the reports principal investigator said.

“Building cities that are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable requires extensive coordination between policy makers, universities, industry, and citizens. Our study outlines a response to this challenge by proposing a social contract model or blueprint for engaging the stakeholders to developing inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities – which contributes directly to SDGs 8 and 11,” Dr Chaudhuri said.

Key factors to consider

The report identifies several factors for consideration that are outlined as essential to the development of a human-centric smart city alongside technological advancements. These include:

  • Innovation and Technology,
  • People and Human Resource,
  • Wellness,
  • Health,
  • Education and Liveability,
  • Financial Funding,
  • Leadership and Governance,
  • Business Professional Ethics Sustainability and Responsibility (ESR),
  • Circular Economy
  • Energy Net Neutrality


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