Smart cities go hand in hand with sustainability and seek to use technology and innovation as tools to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants, promote economic development and reduce environmental impacts. To debate the issue, the 13th edition of ABES CONFERENCE, held in São Paulo on November 6, 2023, brought together important experts at the round table Smart Cities – Data and Technology in Favor of Citizenship. A hybrid and free event, the conference had as its central theme “The Digital Future and the Reinvention of Now and debated many subjects, such as the innovation ecosystem, artificial intelligence, the future of work, fostering innovation and sustainability. It was sponsored by ApexBrasil, TOTVS, AWS, Prosper Tech Talents, Caesbra, NIC.br and SND Distribuidora.
“Anyone who is not connected cannot communicate. The government quickly realized that it would have to be closer to the citizen and that the use of technology would be beneficial in this sense. And connectivity is empowering for both sides. However, this will only be successful if there is transparency, engagement and participation on both sides.”, commented Susanna Marchionni, CEO of Planet Smart City in Brazil. Smart cities must integrate technology into all spheres of urban life, from infrastructure to public services, in addition to promoting citizen participation. They will need to adopt a planned and strategic approach, using digital solutions to solve real problems and improve the efficiency of the services provided. A smart and sustainable city needs to be characterized by collaborative governance and citizen participation in decision-making. They need to involve residents and local stakeholders in the project planning and implementation process, ensuring that everyone's needs and interests are considered.
Regarding the use of new technologies, Paula Faria, CEO of Necta, a company that organizes events on Smart Cities, Mobility and Air Transport, commented that, according to the federal government, progress in the use of technological resources by public authorities took a leap equivalent to four years as a result of the global health crisis. “The best solutions for this were those that combined technology, the optimization of existing resources and the demands of citizens. That is, cities that have developed or adopted different tools to serve their inhabitants with better quality, bringing agility, security and transparency to public policies”, commented Paula.
Paulo Pandolfi, Cofounder and Director of Colab, highlighted the challenge of increasing digitalization during the Covid-19 pandemic, which boosted the “public service in a way never seen before, especially with regard to the issue of scheduling vaccines. At this point the government needed to give a response, which came from getting closer to the inhabitants, who took control and exercised their right to citizenship. This was one of the factors that changed the public manager’s vision and boosted closer ties with citizens.”.
Furthermore, smart cities need to promote digital literacy, that is, people's ability to use information and communication technologies effectively. This is essential to ensure that all citizens can benefit from the opportunities offered by digital transformation. However, it is important to highlight that implementing a smart city faces challenges and complexities, such as protecting personal data and ensuring cybersecurity. “These issues must be addressed in a way that guarantees the privacy and confidentiality of citizens' information, as well as the security of technological infrastructures.”, he pointed out Camila Murta, Leader of the ABES Public Procurement Committee and moderator of the round table.
In short, smart cities are those that adopt a sustainable, innovative and networked approach, using technology to promote economic and social development, reduce inequalities and improve the quality of life for all their inhabitants.