Imagen: Etopia Kids
Smart Cities increase dramatically the oportunities of relation based on ICTs. Both e-administration servicies and telecom facilities like ubicuos conectivity and free-to-use internet access are been deployed by the councils and are available for the citizen to use in their daily relationship with the city administrators and the city itself.
Open datasets get published growing up transparency and creating new opportunities of participation and business.
Private sector grows at the rithm of data communications spreading demand, today motivated mostly by smartphones and their applications market, and soon to be driven by the Internet of Things need for transmission capacity.
On the other hand, peer to peer services are built on top of this infraestructure, creating a brand new interaction environment.
But beeing a great opportunity, the city becomes most of the times more a product for citizen’s consumption rather than an organism we can co-create. Both the social and economic movement smart cities can bring are not as important as they were expected to be.
As in every digital context, code is the law, but majority of the citizens are not aware of the fact they have the chance of understanding and then change this code. Digital Natives are just a myth, and being true new generations are naturally involved with technology, it is more true than the percentage of them able to understand how technology works and to develop new uses is still small. And this is general, without significative differences due by income level or academic degree.
The message is simple: We cannot have a city of hackers if we don’t teach the citizens how to hack. And even more: we won’t have a city of hackers if hacking is not enjoyable.
A new educational aproach is necessary to ensure Smart Cities gathering all the potencial owned by their citizenship. And must necesarily be based on innovation and creativity fostered by information technologies.
Good new is most of needed tools are open, free, off-the-self and avalaible nowadays. Programming tools like Scratch, electronic platforms like Arduino (both of them designed with educational goals) together with existing facilities and educational services conform a powerful mix. We only need to put all together to work.
Pilot projects are ongoing in different cities.They are being analysed with educational purposes in order to find the most effective practices, and results achieved are been measured. Castilla La Mancha‘s and Madrid‘s Secondary Schools Creative Technologies program based in innovation, electronic and robotics, are two very interesting case of use.
In Zaragoza, pilot is directed even to younger children, starting in primary school. Etopia_Kids program, planned as after school and on-holiday activities, is also an interesting living case of study.
The drive of both programs is to interest all the children in technology, without difference of origin avoiding indesirable effects such as gender inequality or social divide. Atracting girls and minorities to technology is essential to turn the city as inclusive as possible.
If we want real Smart Cities, we must focus on education. Starting in the school, but globally available for all the citizenship. Otherwise instead of urban intelligence we will only achieve urban automation.
Fernando Tomás es Ingeniero en Telecomunicación y coordina el grupo de Smart Cities de IDOM.
(Este artículo se preparó como propuesta para un desarrollo mayor)