Matthew Slutsky
October 5, 2009

Canadian cities and communities must become “smarter”, and on a personal level we must also become smarter. We must infuse intelligence into city/region subsections, such as our transportation systems, energy systems, education, health care, buildings, physical infrastructure, food, water, and public safety.

According to the vision by Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter and IBM’s Stanley S. Litow, in the not so distant future leaders will “…combine technological capabilities and social innovation to help produce a smarter world.”

The result of the above mentioned will be smarter cities that are made up of smarter communities that support the overall well-being of all citizens. According to a recent article in Harvard Business, Kanter states:

A smarter city could infuse information into its physical infrastructure to end traffic jams, deliver services more efficiently, conserve energy, improve air and water quality, recover quickly from disasters, increase access to health and education, use data to make better decisions abour public safety, and link nonprofit, government, and community service organizations in collaborations to improve well-being. A smarter city could even route excess food quickly to those who need it.

Check out their paper, “Informed and Interconnected: A Manifesto for Smarter Cities” in which eight major challenges facing cities and the communities they encompass are outlined, based on US experiences.

Kanter and Litow provide examples of practices and programs led by both government and nonprofit organizations – many technology-enabled – that point the way to solutions, and they conclude with a call for leaders to embrace an agenda for change.

In Canada I believe that people are connected on a person-to-person level, but our city/regions are becoming increasingly fragmented. One does not have to look much further than the sprawling Golden Horseshoe, divided by political barriers and small organizations working in isolation from each other, to see the need for a smarter, information-rich and interconnected approach that is able to provide opportunities to all citizens.

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