Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ S2000 - What is a Smart Community?

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Oct 27, 2000

Roger Caves, coordinator of the Graduate City Planning program at San Diego State University, is in the business of helping officials and administrators follow the difficult road toward becoming a smart community.

He identified five major aspects of the concept:

1.      Any sized community can be a smart community. It's not about size.

2.      It is about technology, and a smart community assumes a layer of information technology to enable the process.

3.      But it's not about technology, either. Mainly, it's about cooperation. It's about bringing all the parties in a community to the table.

4.      And it's about understanding that the process is never complete. It's a process, not an end goal.

5.      And it represents a fundamental change in the way communities do business.

You do not build smart communities (which in my mind adds an ironic twist to the United Way campaign slogan, which asserts that we are "Building caring, vibrant communities). You create the conditions in which a smart community can grow. The people build the smart community:

1.      You need to educate members of the community and show them what the new technology can do

2.      You need to work with all sectors of the community to identify common issues and needs.

3.      You need to engage in a planning process to address those needs.

4.      And you need to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

What a smart community is not is a 'field of dreams'. You cannot simply assume that, if you build it, they will come. A smart community must reflect community needs, serve community interests, and indeed, be run and owned by the community as a whole.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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