Changing the way cities perform

The objectives of Smart Cities initiatives often include highly desirable efficiency, resilience, growth and vitality. But a more fundamental objective underlies all of these: fairness


Rick Robinson is speaking at our Digital Thinking, Smart Building conference on 4th November. 

Click here to read the programme, view our 60 speakers and book your place.


The Smart Cities movement will only be viewed as a success by the wider world if it contributes to the critical objective of fairness.

In his landmark work, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, the economist EF Schumacher wrote extensively about how fairness might be achieved through our efforts to encourage the world's development, and asked:

'What is that we really require from the scientists and technologists? I should answer:

We need methods and equipment which are:

Cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually everyone;

Suitable for small-scale application; and

Compatible with man’s need for creativity.'

I can’t think of a more powerful set of tools that reflect these characteristics than the digital technologies that have emerged over the past decade, such as social media, smartphones, cloud computing and Open Data. They provide a digital infrastructure of 'appropriate' technologies that are accessible to everyone, but that can connect with the large scale city infrastructures that support millions of urban lives; and they can give citizens, communities and businesses the ability to adapt city infrastructures to their own needs.

These digital technologies can be tools of smart urbanism in the same way that the physical materials of urban design are; and they are emerging to provide common ground between the technologists of the Smart Cities movement and the many other professions that have shaped our cities for much longer.


Read more from Rick Robinson here

Rick Robinson is speaking at our Digital Thinking, Smart Building conference on 4th November.  

Click here to read the programme, view our 60 speakers and book your place.