Need For Smart Cities

31st October is marked every year as World Cities Day. The United Nations General Assembly designated the Day by its resolution 68/239. The Day is used to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities, addressing challenges of urbanization and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world. World Cities Day is generally themed Better City, Better Life. However, each year a different sub-theme is selected, to either promote successes of urbanization, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanization.
This year, the Day is under the theme “Changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations.” It aims at discussing how urbanization can be used to achieve sustainable development. Another goal is to promote the international community’s interest in implementing the New Urban Agenda globally and in enhancing cooperation among countries in taking advantage of opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization in cities. According to the UN, over half the world’s population now reside in cities. The number is expected to double by 2050. Urbanization poses several sustainability challenges relating to housing, environment, climate change, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and natural resources.
The main goals of the 2019 World Cities Day celebration are to “increase awareness of how digital innovations can be used for urban service delivery to enhance the quality of life and improve the urban environment. Also, to show new frontier technologies that can create more inclusive cities. Furthermore, the celebration is to present opportunities for renewable energy generation in cities and in addition, the celebration is to explore how frontier technologies can promote social inclusion in cities.” It is very expensive living in most cities. Apart from costly accommodation, food and other basic essentials are exorbitantly high. In Ghana due to improper planning, our cities are be bedevilled with unsanitary conditions, flooding, unbearable traffic jams, sprawling slums and improper siting of structures and buildings.
Productivity suffers when workers who commute daily from peri-urban areas to the city centres to work spend hours in traffic. Safety in cities like Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Tamale to mention a few are nothing to be proud of. Rampant fire outbreaks, armed robbery, vehicular accidents, air and noise pollution are regular features that make the cities somewhat unsafe. The needless death through flooding among other risks in our cities must cease. Making cities smart through the use of technology and innovation is the way to travel. It is important for city managers and planners to leverage on urbanization to achieve sustainable development by “tailoring the way cities are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed.
Cities have always been drivers and incubators of innovation, industry, technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity; creating prosperity, enhancing social development and providing employment”. It is often argued that the battle for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals will be won or lost in cities. To this end, “cities will have to continue to champion the promotion of innovation in ground-breaking forms to achieve lasting impact in communities and to ensure that “no one and no place” is left behind.” As we mark the World Cities Day, let us all contribute to  our cities smart and liveable. For it is our collective responsibility.
BY DOMINIC HLORDZI, A JOURNALIST

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