The concept of "smart cities" has become a catchphrase for many companies seeking to offer solutions to many of the problems in urban hubs today in the areas of traffic, public safety and education.
"The idea basically is how to use information technology to make cities work better," explained Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute for the Future, in an interview with IESE Prof. Paddy Miller at the World Business Forum. Townsend describes various initiatives that have this goal, led by large organizations such as IBM, Siemens and Cisco Systems.
"But there's also a lot of vibrant grassroots innovation going on," he said, ranging from new apps that help people better navigate cities to the actions of of technologist-hackers who are seeking to transform the urban experience into something more transparent and inclusive. One of the most striking changes today is the speed at which ideas are moving among cities, he notes.
Anthony Townsend will be one of the keynote speakers at the Smart City World Congress taking place in Barcelona Nov. 29-Dec. 2.