If you are thinking about Smart Cities, don't forget the people in them. This issue is not just about buildings, the Internet, design, parks, transport, clean air etc., though they all have their place - the most important aspect of a smart city is the people! Not only should the people be well educated, in secure and fulfilling work and paid at least the Living Wage, they should also be engaged and involved in the governance of that city.
This does not mean just 'voting' or being consulted when it suits the authorities. It means the people should organise to ensure their interests are taken seriously alongside the clashing interests of the State and Market economics. Organised people can initiate, challenge, create and craft their own future - disorganised people can simply observe and comment on events. The most liberating and fought over aspect of governance is the power to initiate. We cannot leave this to the paid officials or to the elected and we are not born just to observe. John Stuart Mill said: 'that which people get for themselves is so much better than that which they are given'.
A smart city is therefore one which creates a central place for the organised people of that place (the ancient Greeks would say 'the polis'), encourages its people to organise, respects diversity and welcomes challenge. A smart city is one where the key institutions of Civil Society - faith, education, organised labour and the voluntary sector are strong and healthy - and recognise their role in enhancing democratic behaviour by teaching people to work together for the common good.
This year's CSCLeaders challenge is 'What makes a city smart?'
By 2050, nearly 75% of the world's population will live in cities. This growth creates new opportunities but also presents cities with huge economic, environmental and social challenges. Can 'Smart' solutions be found? And not just in the form of technology, but also crucially through leadership, innovation and collaboration?