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Smart cities in focus: enabling individuals and communities to improve their lives

Demands on cities are increasing everywhere. As a result, they are becoming more sophisticated in how they support the billions of people, biological ecosystems, systems infrastructure, buildings and vehicles that move and grow within them. As technology transforms the way transport, health, education, retail, energy, waste, water and other infrastructure works, the data and devices we use to understand them and communicate with each other will become part of our daily routine (whether actively or passively).

We believe that the time of ‘smart cities’ being thought of in terms of infrastructure and technology has passed. Rather than asking "what systems should be built, using what technology, to create sustainable urban environments?”, we should be engaging directly with all our cities' users to understand and improve their lives. A ‘sustainable urban environment’ is far more than the sum of its infrastructure. Much as the web has transformed our digital lives, opening up vast potential for new types of interaction, our physical spaces and systems are now becoming part of a connected conversation.

A smart city is not about technology

We are exploring how we can create, share, collaborate and use information to create better cities. We believe that the key to making a city smart is putting people and openness at the heart of its design and operation. Together, people create the cultures that shape a city’s identity, its rhythm, its sense of community, its diversity, and ultimately ensures the collective wellbeing of its citizens.

Open culture creates better cities for everyone

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. Whether it is data on local housing from government, real-time train times from rail companies, organising family events, or finding supermarket locations from retailers, open data can help us all better understand, and interact with, our cities.

Keeping infrastructure and markets open is the only scalable way to ensure equitable and secure growth in our cities.

Cities need to scale out, not scale up

Our open, peer-to-peer culture is fostering a new generation, ‘Generation Open’, who can use open data, tools and systems to transform our architecture, our environment and our society for the better.

In the coming months, we will focus on the many ways that open data can underpin different kinds of smart cities. This has begun with an ODI Futures event on how to scale open smart cities with data, networks and culture, we will gather perceptions, experiences and ideas on what can make cities smart, and how we can sustain an open culture to foster them for generations to come.

Share your thoughts in the comments, send us your blog idea or tweet us at @ODIHQ.

We're looking for open data impact stories that directly relate to the smart cities sector, send us your stories via this straight forward form.