Ending “social exclusion” and giving primacy to “human aspect” should be the key guiding factors in the development of smart cities with technology acting only as an enabling tool, experts in the field of urban development from BRICS nations have opined.
Talking at a plenary session on ‘BRICS Smart Cities Enclave’ on the second day of the three-day conference on Urban Transition here today, the experts noted that adoption of technology alone could not be the ultimate goal in creating smart cities.”Technology should only be used as a tool to meet the aspirations of the people,” they added.
Academician from Brazil, D Alvaro de Oliveira expressed concern over the growing “social exclusion” in cities and rising isolation of different social groups and stressed that smart cities should aim at integrating people.
He cited the initiatives taken in Brazil to end social conflicts by creating integrated neighbourhoods in its capital Rio de Janiero and also in the Spanish city of Lisbon.
Oliveira also suggested establishment of BRICS Human Smart Cities Institute to mount collective efforts for socially and economically integrated urban development in the context of growing emphasis on smart city development.
IIT-Roorkie Director Pradipta Banerjee also noted that smart city development was “not all about technology” but meeting the needs of people.
“Urban development approaches should address the trust deficit between people and governance institutions,” Banerjee said.
He favoured development of connected smart city regions rather than (stand alone) smart cities, including improvement in quality of rural areas.
South Africa’s Philip Harrison said BRICS nations should ensure that development of smart cities did not further increase existing inequalities in urban areas.
“Governance should not be allowed to become more technocratic and less responsive,” he cautioned.
Chinese expert Lie Tie said given the huge mobile and Internet penetration in his country, the government was making ‘Internet’ the cornerstone of enhancing the efficacy of municipal governance and employment generation.
Georgy Antsev of Russia gave an account of the technology-based initiatives being taken in his country to effectively respond to the consequences of natural disasters and provide relief to people in quick time.