Smart City has been one of the buzzwords that gained a lot of attention in recent years, yet there is little consensus about what a Smart City actually is or should be. The Area of Advance (AoA) Building Futures began a mapping process in November 2016 to gather information about the concept and systematically map related research activities at Chalmers. On March 8th 2017 AoA directors and profile leads from Building Futures, Energy, Transport and ICT came together to discuss the concept and identify challenges which can be tackled by joint research initiatives at Chalmers.
Today, over 50 % of the world’s population live in cities, a proportion that the United Nations (U.N.) expects to increase to 66 % in 2050. The main question here is how functionality and resilience in growing cities can be assured? To many the answer seems to be “by making them smarter”. But how exactly do we make it happen? What technologies are needed and which city dimensions are affected? And finally, how can Chalmers’ Areas of Advance contribute to addressing this important challenge?
The purpose of the mapping process initiated by Building Futures in November was to find answers to the above questions and to identify a structured way to utilize the concept of Smart Cities at Chalmers. AoA Building Futures director Henriette Söderberg explains that “often researchers are not aware of the fact that their projects directly contribute to the wide domain of Smart Cities. Our goal is to make the Smart City debate tangible for our researchers.”
After laying the groundwork through literature review, several interviews with stakeholders from research, industry and the public sector were conducted. With respect to the challenge-driven character of the Areas of Advance
144 different Smart City challenges in 9 dimensions were collected and visualized on a large map.
The Smart City challenge map was the point of departure for the AoAs workshop held on the 8th of March 2017. As a result of the workshop, five possible fields of action for the Areas of Advance were identified:
- Cyber security
- Circular economy
- Multimodal transport
- Virtual cities
- New urban planning
In the weeks to come, further strategic discussions within the Areas of Advance will take place and concrete next steps on how to anchor the Smart City topic at Chalmers will be taken.