Day[11/100] #100DaysOfCloud – Jonnychipz – Smart Cities Making Cities Our Home

Hello all, thanks for following me on my latest part of the #100DaysOfCloud Challenge. As per yesterdays post, I have taken the decision to take the focus off the technology for a day or two, primarily to learn a bit more about the context in which the technology I work with and am constantly learning about and what problems we can expect to be looking to solve for our living environment today and into the future.

Jonathan Reichental’s ‘Smart Cities for Dummies’ Book hasn’t disappointed so far.

After reading through the first section – Part 1 – Making Cities Our Home, Reichental’s approach is to take us on a journey of using history to understand the origin of cities, with a history lesson of urbanisation. He helps us understand some of the definitions of what a ‘smart’ city might and might not actually mean, as well as looking at motivations for building smart cities. Later in the section the challenges that cities face today and into the future are explored.

As much as technology is touched upon as an obvious enabler of solutions to modern world problems, the context of where and why cities have formed are cantered around the requirements of humans.

I do truly believe that innovation is derived from necessity, however I also picked up on one point that was raise din the book around how difficult innovation is. We are trying to sole problems that will exist in the future, and I agree that this fundamental point is a tricky problem to work with. How do you predict what problems may need to be solved? Having a good understanding of the problem is a start, but in solving one problem do you inadvertently create another that requires a solution?! My personal thoughts on why I am reading this text is to further appreciate the view point of the non technical, with that perspective I hope to be able to further articulate and apply my knowledge in the tehcnical areas I know about today, but more importantly as I progress through this challenge, the technical skills that I hope to learn! I am hopeful that I will have a better appreciation of the problems and how my small bit might be able to assist in solutions!

This first section of the book is split into three chapters of which I have made some notes.

Chapter 1 – Comprehending the Past, Present and Future of Cities

  • Origins of Cities
    • What is a city? – ‘A machine to live in’
    • Each city came to be for various reasons
    • Work out why your city came to be – Do research to understand the origins and the growth, avoid repeating the bad elements and truly look to understand the issues that need focus on.
    • Cities have been born of human requirement and necessity.
  • The first cities
    • Damascus, Syria 10,000 years old, still inhabited and believed to be the oldest.
    • Rather than being in rural self sufficient areas, cities grew as people lived closer together and could do differing jobs and trade.
    • Cities stayed relatively small as most people were living a rural lifestyle up until 1800’s. World population was less than 1 Billion.
    • Once people started to live in Cities, problems began to emerge, this is where innovation came to be around cities. Neighbourhoods were formed, Law and order, manufacturing of mass produced products. Cities became wealthy and innovation grew.
    • Great fire of London in 1666 destroyed 70,000 homes of 80,000 inhabitants, many cities had similar issues.
    • Planning changed, redesign and innovation played its part to avoid these situations in the future.
  • Impact of the industrial Revolutions on Cities
    • 1st Industrial Revolution – Steam, power.
    • 2nd Industrial Revolution – Electricity
    • 3rd Industrial Revolution – Telecommunications (Information)
    • Each of these relatively modern revolutions has shown previously unthinkable changes on society, created jobs, required new skills, solved new problems but created new problems!
    • A problem London had before the automobile was that of the manure from Horses filling the streets, causing disease and unsightly living conditions. The London Mayer at the time declared that the streets would be covered with 9ft of manure within 50 years……… lucky the car was invented then!!
  • The fourth Industrial Revolution
    • Arguably the 3rd Revolution is still happening
    • We could see that there is a 4th revolution in terms of autonomous cars, AI, and machine learning, medical breakthroughs.
    • The 4th Revolution is arguably driven by the increase in super computing techniques and the ubiquitous nature of this.
  • Responding to Population Growth
    • 1800 – Population passed 1 Billion
    • 1900 – Passed 2 Billion
    • 1930’s – 3 Billion
    • 2000 – 6 Billion
    • Today we approach 8 Billion
    • Significant increase in last 200+ years
    • Its suggested that the 1st and 2nd Industrial revolutions were the catalyst for the population growth.
    • Rate of growth is thought to peak around 11 Billion before declining.
    • Population decreases are suggested to be the biggest challenge we face as our systems and economies are geared for increasing supply, not decreasing.
    • Smart cities need a strategy to cater for population and demographic trends.
  • Urbanizing the Planet
    • Nothing much has happened for 199,000 out of 200,000 years of humans on this planet.
    • Cities is a recent concept in the time of humans, last few decades, 1900 percentage of people living in cities was under 20%, today it ranges from 40% in India to 80% and higher in USA and Japan.
  • Changing Landscapes from Urbanization
    • Without a smarter approach to developing cities communities will face a daunting future.
  • Building Megacities
    • 20th Century was defined by population growth with Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghi hitting the top spots of population of its mega cities.
    • 21st Century will be defined by a cities power consumption and carbon footprints of megacities.

Chapter 2 – Defining Smart Cities

  • Identify a smart city
    • A city is never finished, its in a state of constant change
    • No such thing as a smart city? Just a list of compelling needs?
    • Smart Cities are not well defined, nor is there a common agreed view
  • What is a smart city?
    • What is a city but its people?
    • A smart city is defined by its people
    • ISO and BSI have standard definitions ISO69050
    • A definition can be viewed of a smart city as a city that responds to its peoples needs in new and innovative ways.
  • Challenges awaiting solutions
    • Social support systems (Overburdened and inefficient)
    • Transport – Congestion, Poor Public Transport
    • Inequality
    • Poverty
    • Crime
    • Homelessness
    • Environmental Damage
    • Poor air quality
    • Aging and broken infrastructure
    • Lack of Jobs
    • Weak Civic engagement
    • Food insecurity
    • Inclusiveness
    • An ever increasing list of challenges that face cities, which should act as a guide to the future solution requirements.
    • Smart city definitions should not make reference to specific technologies, technology becomes obsolete and move on where as a definition should be worded to be timeless.
    • 2 Important qualities – Technology Use and People first
  • What a smart city IS NOT
    • An upgrade from a dumb city
    • A surveillance city
    • A gadget and app strategy
    • A temporary technology trend
    • A concept that only matters to big cities
  • Working with Digital Infrastructures
    • Data Centres
    • Network Infrastructure
    • Fixed and Mobile Connectivity
    • Platforms and Applications
    • Internet of Things (IoT) and devices
  • Building a case for a smart city
    • What issues is the city faced with? Flooding, Congestion, Public Transport, Internet Access, Environmental Damage
    • Small vs a Large City
    • Smart nations or smart things
    • Lots of other ‘smarts’, Islands, Nation, Stadium, Factory, Hospital, Manufacturing, Regions, Villages, Airports, Campus. i.e. not just defined to cities but each with their own specific set of challenges and issues.
    • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) five broad areas, People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership
    • Integrating SDG’s into smart city approach can attract credibility.
    • 17 SDG’s – No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, Decent work and economic growth, Industry innovation, Reduced inequality, Sustainable cities/communities, Responsible consumption and production, Climate action, Life below water, Life on Land, Peace and Justice, Partnerships on goals.

Chapter 3 – Responding to the Needs and Challenges of Cities

  • Mapping the Evolving Needs and Challenges
    • Economic Shifts
    • Increasingly Complex City Requirements
    • Interdependence between systems
    • Population changes
    • Urbanization
    • Deurbanization
    • The significance of population age – age distribution matters
    • Aging infrastructure
    • Lifestyle Choices
    • Environment
    • Health
    • Water Management
    • Housing crisis
  • Expecting Different Results
    • Changing community behaviours and expectations
    • Expand community engagement – not just a voting system anymore, technology has given every citizen a mouthpiece and a way to communicate directly to the top! Community engagement in all sorts of issues is more accessible today, meaning a more accurate reflection of the population can be sought.
    • Engaging in participatory design
  • Transforming Urbanization
    • Transportation
    • Energy
    • Buildings
    • Telecommunications
    • Sustainability

The first section of this book has shown me how to look at cities, its given me information on how human population has exploded in such a short space of time, giving rise to cities and megacities. In turn with this population explosion which was brought on my the technological advances of primarily the 1st and 2nd industrial revoluitons, cities and megacities have developed an ever increasing complex web of issues that need to be resolved.

Government and The U.N. have devised plans and areas of concern that innovation is required to address the big problems caused primarily by this population increase.

The 4th Industrial revolution with the increase of huge computing power and its ubiquitous nature, Artificial intelligence the rise of ‘Smart societies’ could potentially offer hope to addressing some of th emore ocmplicated problems to solve.

The bottom line is that humans have always had problems to solve in a unique and innovative way, that issue seems to be more true today with global problems brought on by the rise of cities and megacities and its really up to our generation and the proceeding generations to innovate to come up with the innovation to tackle the human issues we are faced with today!

A great read with the detail fantastically portraid! Looking forward to Part 2 – Building a Smarter City!!!

Again, I am fully aware that the tentative link between this subject and Cloud Computing is there and I hope that people will understand my reasoning to move from the technology to the human problems. I am hoping that when I apply my current knowledge that I have today as well as the knowledge I pick up from this book and subsequent deep dive technical training points I will investigate over this 100 Days challenge, I am hopeful that this will help me be able to apply the technology learnings in a very real and practical way.

Either that or I am going to be a hoot at parties 😉

Until tomorrow


Paperback version:

100DaysOfCloud Overview

My Main ReadMe Page is all set up with a bit about me!

The guys at 100DaysofCloud have set up the GitHub repo to be cloned and also have a great repo containing ideas and areas to collaborate on:

My Github Journey tracker can be found here:

Please Watch/Star my repo and feel free to comment of contribute to anything I push! I really look forward to hearing from anyone who is going to jump on the journey around the same time as me! Lets see where I get to in 100 days!

I would encourage others to jump on this journey, I’m not sure that I will be able to commit every day for 100 days, but as long as I can complete 100 days that will be great!

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