1st Webinar - Moving Forward/2021 Edition: New paradigms for the future of cities

30/03/2021     V21 / Moving Forward / Webinar / Future of Cities

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After the success of the first cycle of 6 webinars, which took place between April and June 2020, Altice Labs and V21 (Technology Incubation Center of Viseu) started, on the 10th of March, a new cycle dedicated to the theme "New paradigms for the future of cities", with a session that had economist and professor Augusto Mateus and the CEO of Altice Labs, Alcino Lavrador, as keynote speakers.

This first session worked as a framework for this second webinar cycle. Augusto Mateus made his intervention focusing on the economic and social aspects in the evolution of cities.

Professor Augusto Mateus began by stating that the pandemic currently affecting the world is a disruptive factor in society and economy, accelerating transformations and making certain paradigms about cities and society obsolete. With digital transformation, we are facing potential economic transformation, dramatic increases in productivity, drastic improvements in the organization of cities and societies, comparable only to the situation 100 years ago.

Cities, as spaces of collective efficiency, are basically an overlap of different cities: the residential, administrative, logistical city, the city of culture, tourism, research, industry, services and the commercial city. Not all of them have all these values and their transformation process must take this into account.

Technology and intelligence can be a powerful tool in the challenge of shaping cities as diversified platforms for generating wealth, fighting waste, improving ecological performance, contributing to decarbonization and creating more wealth based on creativity and knowledge.

In Portugal a very hasty distinction is made between the so-called coast and interior, and it is assumed that there is only a solution when resources are transferred from the coast to the interior, instead of thinking that basically what is wrong is the lack of stronger interactions between the coast and the interior and the lack of equity in the generalization of the conditions for the creation of wealth in a competitive and distributable manner with equity.

By adding economies of specialization to economies of scale, it is not true that the most efficient solutions are always obtained by growing, always increasing the scale. They are obtained by respecting rationalities and making the best integrations. In the design of the sustainable city and circular economy, with the new role of citizen-consumers, one of the ways to defend democracy is to better understand how we give more citizenship to consumers and more consumption to citizens.

Alcino Lavrador brought up the subject of the city as a service, starting by stating that it is the need to feel happy that makes us seek out a particular city in which to work and live.

With digitalization, ownership is giving way to use, that is, the use of a good does not imply its ownership. This transformation is not accidental. New generations favour a rich and rewarding user experience, with pleasant and easy usability in the consumption of services.

In the same way, a city has to be designed to provide the best possible user experience at the various points of contact that each person has with the city. And as in any industry or business, it is necessary to segment the "customers" to design a unique and remarkable "customer journey" for each one. The city thus becomes a service that is enjoyed differently by an inhabitant, a company or a visitor.

This vision allows us to look at infrastructure, municipal services, buildings, mobility, housing and green spaces as functionalities of a service that should be adapted to provide the best possible experience and exceed the expectations of each user, taking into account the context in which the experience is lived.

This transformation needs planning based on real data. Just as any company nowadays collects data from its customers to provide them with a better user experience, anticipating needs and customizing contextualized offers, it is also necessary to permanently adapt the various points of contact in the city, taking into account the sociological, technological and economic evolution and the context of interaction. We can only improve what we measure. It is therefore imperative that intelligent connectivity is put in place: that it allows data to be collected from all the points of contact that the city provides and that analytical solutions be adopted for the extraction of information and knowledge about the city, allowing us to act in real time, resolving situations before they worsen and even predicting and anticipating occurrences. This analytics will also allow, based on history, to prescribe measures to mitigate the impacts of adverse natural or social events.

In a city designed as a service, there are conditions for people to be touched emotionally in their daily interaction with each other and with the city, resulting in a city where people feel happy - a Happy City.

The Happy City therefore results from the way the city is designed and built, highlighting its culture, roots and history, taking into account its humanization on the one hand, and the way it can be enjoyed by its different "customers" on the other in their daily journeys. To this end, the latter must feel included in decision-making about a common space, and the authorities must build tools that facilitate the engagement of citizens with their city and its future, as well as show transparency in decisions and actions undertaken in order to increase mutual trust.

The session was closed by José Couto, who stated:

The increasingly relevant contribution of cities to humanity, highlighting that what we call a city is actually a set of distinct functions, which can be seen as cities within cities, serving different actors or "customers". However, he warned that priorities and solutions are very different between a city of 100 thousand inhabitants and another of 10 million inhabitants, and there is no universal recipe for all cities.

He then highlighted the theme of emotions, and the concept of happiness was taken up again, given that our emotions largely condition the way we react to the events that surround us, and the concept of the level of happiness of a city's inhabitants is increasingly becoming a factor in retaining and attracting inhabitants.

As a conclusion, José Couto mentioned the concept of the city of the future, as a platform to create value and happiness for its inhabitants.

The session can be watched here.

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