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MAKING

CITIES

SMART

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www.jamaica-gleaner.com

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UWI AT 70

THE GLEANER, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2018

D5

Professor Winston Moore/Contributor

C

ITIES ARE a key part of economic

activity in the Caribbean. Besides acting

as a hub for retail trade, many

Caribbean cities also play a key role in relation

to tourism, finance, and small businesses. The

streets of most Caribbean cities are normally

lined with hucksters selling fruits, vegetables,

and other small knick-knacks for locals and

tourists. In relation to finance, almost all

major commercial banks and credit unions try

to locate at least one branch in the city, where

tourists normally wander either to shop or

take pictures of our historic buildings and

monuments.

THE CHALLENGES

While there are numerous benefits that

arise from cities within the Caribbean, there

are also a number of challenges that all cities

face. These challenges include congestion,

crime and population growth, pollution,

ageing infrastructure, among other things.

The concept of making a city smart attempts

to address the challenges that these cities

face through the use of technology and

connectivity. In so doing, it attempts to tackle

issues related to sustainability, efficiency, and

the quality of life.

Essentially, a smart city is an interrelated

system where the various components of the

city are connected. For example, systems in

the smart city would be monitoring traffic

flows, and where hot spots are detected,

adjust traffic lights and divert traffic by

communicating with public transport

vehicles and

the general

public. Such

a system,

integrated

with a traffic

app, can reduce

congestion, reduce

pollution from traffic idling in

slow-moving traffic, and enhance

productivity by reducing the number of

hours lost sitting in traffic.

It is not necessary that a smart city lose all

contact with its cultural heritage. For

example, street vendors, a unique part of

Caribbean cities, might be able to tap into the

smart city app to advertise their unique

merchandise (e.g., where to find that vendor

with green peas at Christmas) and to inform

potential customers about their location.

MAIN FACTORS

The literature on the subject has potentially

identified three main factors that drive the

success of smart cities: (1) technology; (2)

governance; and (3) policy. As one would

expect, a key element of any smart city is the

utilisation of smart computing. These systems

rely on data gathering in real time as well as

advanced analytics to help manage various

aspects of the city. In addition to using

technology to solve problems, several cities

have utilised stakeholder groupings to

identify problems, give voice to its citizens,

and help to develop innovative solutions.

These stakeholder groups also help to

develop buy-in to the smart-city initiative and

could

lead to

its success

over time. Such

stakeholder initiatives ensure that the

decision-making process in the city is

accountable, responsive, and transparent.

GETTING THERE

To transform Caribbean cities as they are

now to smart cities will require policy

support. Policymakers will need to provide

the regulatory framework to support the

development of the city, invest in information

and communication technologies (ICTs), and

engage in planning. The private sector is a

key aspect of the city, therefore, public-sector

initiatives are unlikely to be successful by

themselves. These initiatives will have to be

integrated at all levels to ensure the success

of the smart city.

In addition to the above-mentioned

success factors, at the heart of the smart city

is a smart educational system: a smart

campus. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Professor V. Eudine Barriteau has set the bold

vision for The University of the West Indies,

Cave Hill Campus, to be a smart campus by

2038. Such a campus attempts to utilise ICTs

to revolutionise

the approach to

providing education

services, improve internal

operating processes, as well as

promote innovation and entrepreneurial

enterprise across all operations.

When the smart campus is fully integrated

into a smart city, it facilitates the growth and

development of the city by providing

innovative solutions to the problems faced by

the city, a source for start-up businesses, as

well as a means for supporting the cultural

aspects of the city. For example, a close

relationship between a smart city and a smart

university can incorporate the students from

the Bachelor of Fine Arts to display their short

videos, documentaries, and dance at pop-up

theatres in the city that enhance the cultural

elements of the city as well as bring potential

customers.

NOT OVERNIGHT

While a smart city is not something that

can be achieved overnight, through effective

planning and management, it is a destination

that can be worked towards. The benefits of

such initiatives can also be quite significant,

including faster rates of economic growth,

increased job opportunities, reduced

inefficiencies, and a better standard of living

for residents of the city.

Professor Winston Moore is the coordinator for

graduate studies and research at The UWI, Cave

Hill Campus, in Barbados.