From Smart City to Smart Territory
Smart cities or territories must have a social, economic and environmental commitment to their inhabitants. Basically, it is about taking advantage of new technologies, increasingly focused on the intelligent use of data, to help people by improving their quality of life, creating better access to opportunities and favoring a greener and more sustainable environment.
In 2014, the European Parliament defined “smart city” as a city in which not only components interact, but also do people. According to this definition, a smart city is the city that, at least, addresses one or more of the following six items: Smart Governance, Smart People, Smart Living, Smart Mobility, Smart Economy and Smart Environment. Thanks to ICT, networks of people, companies, infrastructures, resources, energy and spaces are created; also, there are smart organization and governance tools.
But the city is not the only place where identities and lifestyles are shaped, nor is it the only place where opportunities are created. We are in 2021, and it is time for distance learning (eLearning) and teleworking. Although we are emerging from the pandemic, there is still a lot of uncertainty in terms of face-to-face models, and it is normal to wonder whether some paradigms could have changed forever. Specifically, we are talking about the concept of “city” as central axis of economic activity, as its place could have been taken by a geographically-wider concept. If teleworking becomes widespread, and employees only have to go to the office, say for example, once or twice a week, many will consider moving to areas distant from the city center. The concept of “city” expands.
The smart city has become a smart territory, which can be defined as the territory that seeks to address public problems through ICT-based solutions, on the basis of a territory-based multi-stakeholder partnership. The smart territory aims to become economically sustainable, energetically self-sufficient and technologically innovative. It also promotes the basic principles for sustainable development. Like the smart city, its characteristics are: smart environment, smart mobility, smart people, smart life, smart governance and smart economy.
A good example of overcoming the concept of smart city towards a broader one is that of Barcelona, specifically through projects such as the Area Metropolitana (AMB) Low Emissions Zone and “Sentilo” smart platform, which the Diputació de Barcelona offers in SaaS mode to the 311 municipalities in the province. These two projects are examples of platforms that were born with the aim to serve the inhabitants of a territory much wider than that of the city.