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The new right to the city

Categories: ALL THE NEWS , Capacity Building & Resource Mobilization
Recently, I’ve noticed a renewed interest in the discussion around what we believe to be a smart city.

Just last week, I was invited to speak on the Evolution to Smart Cities at the 3rd Annual City Development conference held in Cape Town from 13 to 15 March. Featuring city development experts from around the world, some of them smart city experts, I confess to feeling a bit daunted beforehand, but all in all, I was glad to contribute to this conversation.

There are various definitions regarding the term “smart city”. In educating myself, I’ve learned that there’s a sense that smart cities apply human intelligence to the problems of city living to achieve better end results. To live in a manner that does not worsen natural resource constraints is one aspect of being intelligent about city living.

The use of smart devices and information systems that can act independently to serve the interests of people in cities is a dominant theme in smart city agendas and plans. Likewise, the idea of being able to move quickly around the city is reflected in the concerns for effective transportation.

However, smart city agendas in the developing world tend to start from the assumption that residents are digitally connected, while in African cities, this may not be the case. Infrastructure alone cannot solve the apartheid city; an enabling regulatory framework is also required. And in the drive towards progress, let’s not forget that a city can only consider itself smart if it works for all its people.

Digital access has become an important human right. Keen to understand the local context, I discovered that the news is largely good. Internet access is growing in South Africa and there are many initiatives by all spheres of government to increase connectivity. Read more about what I learned in my Molo column, The New Right to the City.

Molo is our free quarterly community newspaper, that aims to connect and celebrate the diverse people of Cape Town through the power of storytelling. For the first time ever, we trialled a digital-only edition. Print is an expensive medium. While we have a print strategy to reach members of our community who do not have internet access, we also need to balance this consideration with reaching as many people as possible. Often, digital is the solution to this.

Molo editor, Ambre Nicholson, also wrote an insightful piece on smart cities called The Connected City; it’s well worth a read. Alternatively, why not browse the February digital edition of Molo online? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this experiment. Is digital the way of the future, or should we stick to print (and digital)?

Finally, if you’re in Cape Town, be sure to visit the Western Cape Property Buyer Show from 8-9 April 2017 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). Aimed at first-time buyers and property investors, I look forward to seeing you there

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