From smart to good cities: shifting the focus from technology to quality of life

People now use a number of terms to classify cities. The commonly used ‘smart city’ is preferred by tech companies. But their idea of ‘smart’ focuses on big data collection and narrow technological monitoring. Alternative terms include liveable, healthy, sustainable, adapting, carbon-neutral, and inclusive. Each one has its own limitations. Chetan Choudhury writes that the essence is simple: a city should be good to live in.

It would not be an exaggeration to claim that in the world’s current context, most people, if not all, want to live in a city. The comfort of urban life, the glamour, the job opportunities, the greater earning potential, education, healthcare, and other such benefits increase the charm of city life, thus drawing multitudes from rural settings into cities each day.

But with such constant influx of people, this so-called charm starts getting depreciated in the form of pollution, traffic jams, garbage, poverty, joblessness, crime, distance from nature, and so on. This keeps the idea of an ‘ideal’ city as a distant dream. Moreover, with as many preferences and viewpoints as there are people, can there be an ideal city that holistically caters to them all? If so, what is an ideal city?

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