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Urbanization is a big topic of our times. More and more people are moving into cities. Many already live there and some might consider it in their future. But independent of the current individual situation, we are interested to understand what smart cities means for us now and in future and how we all can contribute to improve the quality of living in urban structures.

Following the great keynote sessions at the SAP Alumni event, the round table of “interested citizens” came together. Talking about smart cities was very well echoing the topic of social responsibility and giving something back to society.

What became obvious during the discussion is that the topic has a different meaning to different people. And that a smart city is not defined by the term itself. What is smart? How can we solve the local challenges in mid-size cities? How will we address the challenges mega cities are facing, which also affect us as travelers? How about the public safety aspects?

Technology is playing an important role when it comes to finding answers to these questions. Smart mobility will help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in mega cities. It will support the shared economy concept in mid-size cities, so I can get my bike or any other means of transport tailored to my needs. Wearable sensors and analytics of structured and unstructured data will impact public safety.

Talking about available and future concepts we finally hit into the topic of data. What data is and will be collected and analyzed? Who owns the data? Who is collecting the data? Who is bringing the different views and patterns together? Utilities, traffic, consumer behavior, engagement with the city administration – these are different aspects to the same question: do I want to expose my data?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to these questions, which will keep us up at night in future. It is a question of trust. Do I trust my government that it will protect my data and use it for the greater good – some of us agreed while others have been more skeptical.

Social responsibility in the context of cities meant asking questions and staying in touch with the topic for us. We will continue on this effort.

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