The past April 8 and 9 was held in the city of Sabadell, International Congress Intelligent Cities (Smart Cities), which brought together entrepreneurs, economists, institutional representatives and researchers from universities worldwide. The central themes of the Congress were, first, the reflection on the potential of Information Technology and Communication based on an improvement in energy efficiency in the management of public services and public administration and its relationship with private sectors as well as in the favoring of a collaborative planning. In addition, and in connection with this last point, it emphasized the importance of recovering the role of citizens as nuclei of a distributed information relations.
Among the speakers who were present, I would highlight two interventions: Donna Canestraro, Coordinator of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany (State University of New York - SUNY) and Jeremy Rifkin, economist, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC, EU adviser and author of the famous book The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and World. (1)
Cannestraro Donna’s speech focused on the potential of ICT to redesign the relationships that occur in the city, within the American context. Cannestraro said that often, when someone refers to the concept of Smart City and specifically the concept of innovation, it is automatically reduced to a mere technological innovation type, and forget that this is just the platform. Innovation comes from the same design and new models intercom, and awareness that these models have to be several in each city, in every context and in every situation. In this sense, the research carried out from the Center for Technology in Government at the University in Albany, focus on modeling studies of implementation of ICT from the consciousness of the city as complex relationships, and from the forecast the effects that this implementation may involve a social level, to make it as efficient as possible and extract the best performance.
On the other hand, Jeremy Rifkin’s presentation was a comprehensive overview of the effects of these policies and local actions aimed at a kind of knowledge and sustainable production and distribution. Rifkin started from the premise that throughout history, all economic revolution has taken place at a time when the emergence of new communication technologies has coincided with new energy systems. Thus, in the First Industrial Revolution, would the press, on the one hand, and coal and steam as energy sources on the other. In the twentieth century, the Second Revolution: a communication power depended on the telephone, radio, television, in a consumer society welfare which depends on fossil fuel (gasoline, natural gas ...). Rifkin announced for the 1st half of the century, a Third Industrial Revolution, based on communication network (Internet) and renewable energy, which will be a change in the way power is distributed.
Rifkin said five pillars necessary and at the same time, necessarily simultaneous and interrelated, so that this 3rd Industrial Revolution take place:
1. Stop extracting fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy.
2. Replace large power stations by small local plants renewable energy harvesting.
3. Implement the use of hydrogen or other energy storage technologies in every building for intermittent energy (sunlight, wind ...)
4. Using the nodal structure of Internet social networks as shared box pattern for local renewable energy generation.
5. Replace transportation fossil fuel burning others to use green power and favor to integrate also table-generation network and sharing (interactive distribution) green energy.
Thus, both Donna investigations Cannestraro how Jeremy Rifkin departed from the assumption that any changes or technological innovation needs for its success, a transformation of social relations and cultural patterns, particularly the distribution of political power.
"(...) The traditional, hierarchical organization of economic and political power will give way to lateral power accross Nodally Organized society." (2)
There is no point technological innovation without social innovation. And in this case, there is no Smart City without Smart Citizens.
(1) Jeremy Rifkin. The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
(2) Jeremy Rifkin. "The Third Industrial Revolution: How the Internet, Green Electricity, and 3-D Printing are Ushering in a Sustainable Era of Distributed Capitalism". At: The World Financial Review. March " April 2012, p.9.
Mireia Feliu i Fabra (22.05.13)