Smart Sustainable Cities White Paper – Contributions [10]

Morten Nielsen

International Federation for Housing and Planning

Social is the new Smart

For while it might be obvious that cities are made by people for people, we sometimes forget the social dimension – the people – in sustainable urban development, in our pursuit of digital – or so-called smart – solutions that speak to economic and environmental success criteria.

IFHP, The International Federation for Housing and Planning, is committed to changing this. With support from Realdania and the Ramboll Foundation, IFHP is working to develop a way to better gauge the socially sustainable cities, through a comprehensive Social Cities program.

We want cities where we all feel safe, healthy, free, content and inspired. Yet how do we this? We can help the environment and the economy with smart solutions and measure the impact in terms of numbers and spreadsheets, but the social aspect calls for something else.

Our quality of life depends on the balance between the three pillars of sustainability. We need to measure and evaluate all pillars on equal terms in order to create balance, but this requires that we develop the right tools in order to capture the social dimension. If we don’t, our cities will collapse, and the citizens will ultimately pay the price.

Smart technologies are definitely helping us achieve the cities we all want. But a “smart solution” is not the same as “social sustainability”. On this background, IFHP has decided to develop the missing tool to measure social sustainability. We call it the “Social Cities” program, and we divide it into three steps:

  1. A Social Cities Tool that collects data on social indicators and translates them to an easy-to-read social diagnosis of the city
  2. An ideation lab where citizens, politicians, experts, and corporations co-create solutions to ‘cure’ the city of its ‘diseases’
  3. A global platform for knowledge-sharing and networking to help develop best practices.

IFHP is currently in the process of finalising the Social Cities Tool and will very soon reach out to cities and invite them to work together and create Social Cities – all inclusive!

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