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Smart cities
Smart cities

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2.1 Smart city learning

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Figure 6 Connected thinking.

Smart cities are creating a system of learning through city-to-city exchange networks where they share ideas and experiences with their peers. In a global survey conducted for his book Beyond Smart Cities Tim Campbell found that among the 500 cities on the planet with a population of half a million or more there are somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 visits annually to discover proven practices in transit, energy, management, water use and environmental sustainability, and the most innovative cities had set up a system of learning (Campbell, 2012). This also happens at the local level between the different sorts of organisations that come together in smart city partnerships and living labs to share expertise and ideas.

For smart cities to be effective they need to engage a broad range of people. Key to this is education, so that people better understand what smart cities are, and how they can participate and shape them. Education courses are needed to support smart city decision making; for example, cities need to learn how to assess the social, economic and environmental value of different smart solutions and choose the best one for their city.

Digital technologies have not only transformed our lives but they are radically changing education and the way we learn. There is a move towards open education approaches facilitated by technology; examples are MOOCs (massive open online courses), crowdlearning where the knowledge and expertise of many people is crowdsourced, and maker culture where learning happens through making. Open data, open source and open innovation are also changing the way organisations collaborate and learn.

Next you’ll be exploring some smart city education initiatives in more detail. You might like to keep a note of key points for reference later.