Smart cities
Smart cities

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Smart cities

2.2 Smart city education

In the following video, Gerd Kortuem discusses the importance of education for smart cities, and why young people need to become data literate.

He describes his work with start-up companies, teaching them to exploit commercial opportunities of open data in order to enable smart city innovation. And he talks about the course that is being developed as part of MK:Smart for city leaders to enhance their decision making.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_smartcities_vid_1134.mp4
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Education is important because smart cities will have an impact how we live, how we could plan cities and currently smart city initiatives are primarily sort of designed from the top down by a relatively small set of experts and I think it's important to not only think in terms of smart cities but also smart citizens and people need to be able to understand the discussions around smart cities, to critique them and inject their own ideas. I think it's very clear that we are sort of entering a, a data driven society.
I mean if you look at Facebook it's important how many friends do you have, you have your mobile phone applications that track your health, how many steps you do and so everything becomes more and more quantified and currently we don't teach these kind of skills in schools but they're increasingly important. And so we are working with a number of teachers in Milton Keynes to take data into the classroom so that kids can experiment with data, they can critique data, analyse data, tell stories with data.
For example we are bringing in data sets from home electricity, research which we have done with EON, to help kids understand, how much energy a home for example can generate using solar panels and how that relates to the electricity consumption in our household. We are taking in satellite data that helps us understand the distribution of solar panels in the city. We are taking in transportation data so that kids can understand the dynamics of a city and different aspects of a city.
Start-ups are important in the smart city space but while everyone understands that they are huge opportunities I think it's not quite clear yet where these opportunities really are and especially small companies, SMEs, need a lot of help to understand what is coming, where the opportunities will be.
So we work primarily in workshops and face-to-face interactions to help them understand what kind of data will be available in smart cities and so one of the activities which we do for example is to look at the data value chain, basically the set of activities that a company needs to perform to generate value and we are trying to take the value chain apart and see where, in which space companies can actually create value and in which space they cannot create value where they need to find partners. We are working with city leaders to help them understand how to actually implement smart city initiatives.
I think there is a general understanding that smart cities, or the smart city initiatives, or the idea, is a great opportunity for cities. But it's very difficult for cities to understand how to go about it and we are taking a slightly counterintuitive approach by looking at what can go wrong with smart city initiatives. For example we are looking at the lack of engagement with citizens, the lack of funding or the new kind of funding models that are required, or the lack of understanding how to measure the impact of smart city initiatives and we are trying to figure out by focusing on these barriers that might actually make a smart city initiative unsuccessful.
One of the biggest challenges for cities to move into the smart city space is the extreme silo character of, of the city government. There are experts focused on transportation, others on energy, others on community engagement but if there is really one central point about smart city initiatives it's the merging together of these different silos so to understand how a city can create value across these different silos and overcoming these organisational structures is extremely difficult for the cities.
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