Building Smart Cities – A Look at Climate, Community and Resilience

Sue Lebeck, a technologist, psychologist and innovation management specialist, offers some interesting information in her blog about creating smart cities.

This is the third part in her four-part series on the subject. This piece focuses on climate, community and resilience. Her first part looked at energy, tech and water, while the second analyzed transportation and the built environment.

“Standards relevant to the smart cities of the future are emerging — through new paradigms, city-centric networks, alliances and consortia and certification bodies. The best practices that arise from these efforts will provide or inform the standardization which will lead us to 21st century ‘new normal’ for cities. This brief compilation of emerging standards and practices reveals the opportunities for innovation and the potential for 21st century transformation,” writes Lebeck.

First she analyzes carbon and climate.

“The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group assesses in its report, Climate Action in MegaCities, ‘that cities have the power, the expertise, the political will and the resourcefulness to continue to take meaningful climate action.’ To that end the C40, in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative and the USGBC developed the Climate Positive Framework ‘to create large-scale models for urban development that reduce greenhouse gas emissions below zero in an economically viable manner.’ The framework ‘provides a performance-based goal and aims to generate a range of solutions that can be adopted by Development Partners around the world working toward that goal,’” she writes.

In addition, Lebeck writes, “the global cities network ICLEI has created a Local Government Climate Roadmap, an advocacy process for local governments fashioned after the United Nations Climate Change Conference Climate Roadmap for nations, for ‘determining a global action plan… on climate change for the period after 2012.’ It will include ‘a financial framework through which local governments can fund ambitious climate actions.’”

“While cities have long taken leadership, climate change is finally becoming part of the national conversation, as the Environmental Protection Agency's upcoming emissions rules for power plants exemplify. Changes like these will help cities succeed with their carbon-neutral goals,” Lebeck pens.

Another initiative Lebeck has found is called the Feedstock Shift.

“(It) would re-purpose unburnable carbon-based assets away from fuel purposes and toward higher-value materials purposes. Such a shift could improve the economics of moving away from the unsustainable standard practice of burning fossil fuels, and enhance the long-term value of oil and gas investment,” writes Lebeck.

Next she looks at resiliency.

“Nine partners joined at the recent World Urban Forum to form an initiative which ‘aims to build urban resilience to disasters and to strengthen the social, economic and environmental fabric of the world’s urban spaces.’ Among them is ICLEI, which has its own Resilient City Agenda, including a climate adaptation planning tool and a resilient urban food system network; C40, whose work with the Global Cities Cool Alliance helps mitigate the urban heat-island effect through reflective buildings and pavements; and the Rockefeller Center, which recently formed a 100 Resilient Cities network. Watch these spaces for emerging standards in urban resiliency. Microgrids can be expected to become part of the ‘new normal’ for resiliency planning,” writes Lebeck.

Last but not least, Lebeck takes a look at community.

“Some observers have pointed out that cities can deliver service to their communities better by leveraging familiar enterprise models. Microsoft sees the future of service-delivery and engagement with citizens facilitated through the now widespread Customer Relationship Management (CRM) model,” Lebeck pens.

“Serving citizens in a bottom-up fashion to create more livable, resilient and sustainable cities is the Cool City Challenge (full disclosure: I am part of this team.) This initiative seeks to apply and scale proven engagement programs, aided by a software infrastructure designed to drive block-level action and co-create best household and neighborhood practices. Multi-generational approaches such as this — and in particular getting youth involved — has the potential to strengthen social connections on the ground as part of a new normal for cities, especially in the increasingly youthful and mobile-technology-enabled cities in the developing world,” Lebeck writes.

In conclusion, Lebeck writes, “We have a long way to go before emerging practices and standards graduate to become the ‘new normal’ or ‘business as usual’ for cities. But developments such as these will lift cities to become a 21st-century platform and the starting place for an exciting next wave of innovation.”

The fourth and final part of her blog series will focus on materials and food, economic development and city business indicators.


For more information, click here for Lebeck’s original piece: