The Smart Tehran Program (STP) has a vision of building a liveable and inclusive city, with a dynamic economy and integrated infrastructure. Tehran is combining longer-term and more experimental initiatives to identify what has the greatest impact on citizens’ quality of life. The STP comprises five initiatives: Smart Citizen and Digital Services, the InnoTehran Urban Innovation Programme, Smart Mobility; Smart Environment, Energy and Safety, and Municipality Digital Transformation.
Founding such initiatives on citizen-needs is crucial – demonstrating that truly smart cities recognise that their greatest asset is their population. This is the basis of collective intelligence. By opening up innovation and engagement processes, we can build better products and services. A feedback loop is also important, to respond to the needs and priorities of citizens. For example, the MyTehran integrated digital service platform allows the city to shape digital public services through citizen feedback and engagement.
Smart cities need to leverage innovation – wherever it can be found
One of the benefits of collective intelligence is the opportunity to broaden thinking. This also needs to extend to how we define smart cities – which have become synonoymous with the latest technologies such as 5G, Internet-of-Things, Artifical Intelligence, and Blockchain. However, in shaping urban environments that work for everyone – truly smart cities – we need to look beyond ‘just’ technology.
This new perspective is crucial if cities are to tackle their biggest challenges – from ensuring resilience, to tackling epidemics. In addition to technology, we must also explore nature-based solutions, behaviour change, and leverage local and indigenous knowledge.This final aspect has particular resonance in Iran. Cities across the country have for centuries been using windcatchers to provide passive cooling in buildings – a different approach to using sensors, air-conditioning, or Big Data modeling.