BUILTBlog came across the article linked below and was immediately struck by the title. The article is a good read, but it was the title image (not actually explored in the article itself) which lingered.
It seems simple when the idea is captured so graphically – go to the origin of the organism itself and try to identify those conditions (built environment, social, economic etc) which facilitate cohesion, growth and positive development. Once we know what they are and how they work, then bring technology to bear to enable them to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Too often, however, it seems that the cart is wheeled in before the horse and the focus is on applying “Smart” technology to what is already there, warts and all.
The developing industry of “placemaking” could do with a similar shift in perspective – there is a growing movement (exemplified by, amongst others, the efforts of Roger Burton in establishing Making Places In The North) which is striving to focus on what actually does make places rather than simply using the planning process as a proxy.
Vibrant and healthy villages are founded on community. Community emerges from people. People need to be able to be and remain healthy, to educate themselves, to sustain themselves economically.
Perhaps we ought to abandon the concept of the “Smart City” and re-calibrate around the “Smart Village”. To misquote Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams:
“Build it and they will come….”