A city as smart as its citizens

We use the “Singapore Views” visualisation tool developed at the centre to communicate the extent of the urban heat islands and the urgency for action to combat them. And user-friendly planning tools such as the “Quick Urban Analysis Kit” developed at the Chair of Information Architecture allow laypersons to model and visually present their design ideas to fellow citizens and urban planners. It’s not hard to imagine how citizens, uncoloured by political or commercial interests or constraints, could come up with different solutions from specialists and generate out-of-the-box, or even “disruptive” ideas to spark a paradigm change.

Tailoring solutions

Today, a google search of the term “smart cities” yields some 600 million search results; a search for “responsive cities” less than 60 million. So a lot more needs to be done. But there is hope: over 120,000 people from around the world have signed up for our online courses (MOOC) on Future Cities and Responsive Cities. Which goes to show there’s keen interest here.

Cities such as Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen and Barcelona are already role models in adopting a “responsive” approach.  And even small Swiss towns and villages, which have been actively shaped by their citizens for centuries, can be considered as prototypes of a responsive city.

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for successful responsive cities; ultimately, what’s needed are solutions that are adapted to the specific location and context, backed by science, designed with the citizens in mind, and implemented with their support.


This is a modified and abridged version of an article published on the Stars website.

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Author: Shirley