Will Victoria Become the First Smart Community?
How Technology Can Help Us Co-Create a Collaborative Future
by Nelson Guedes
“ A Smart Community is not one that has superficial connected devices, but one that uses interconnected devices to intrinsically achieve a collective consciousness that reconciles the needs of each individual with the needs of the community as a whole.”
Building a smart city is more than just having a city with multiple connected devices. A true smart city is a city that functions as a single entity, where all people work collaboratively together to achieve its goals. No amount of technology alone will achieve that. In order to achieve that, we need to replace separate social-economic systems with highly interconnected interactive ones. Our systems must be a reflection of our relationships and social-economic interactions with one another. The opportunity it brings is to create a more interconnected community that functions more as a whole while preserving the individual and fulfilling each individual’s needs. This is what I call a Smart Community. A Smart Community is not one that has superficial connected devices, but one that uses interconnected devices to intrinsically achieve a collective consciousness that reconciles the needs of each individual with the needs of the community as a whole.
The idea of Smart Community goes way beyond the Smart City concept of using smart devices to dynamically measure and automatically manage certain public services in our communities. We need to completely challenge the predominant idea that government is a top-down system where a few people hold the power to govern all of us. If our representatives are to truly represent us, they can’t hold on to our power and make decisions contrary to our common goals. If people are to be truly represented, governments must, then, become a reflection of who we are as a whole society. This can then only be done by developing emergent, grassroots Smart Community systems that bridge the gap between us, bringing us closer together by facilitating collaborative decision-making and collaborative coordination of resources and efforts. That is the true opportunity before us.
The challenge of the smart revolution is to preserve our rights and freedoms by making the systems simultaneously decentralized and interconnected. Most smart city concepts revolve around a centralized data facility that could easily devolve into a centralized top-down control mechanism, thus infringing on our rights and freedoms. In order to avoid that, a system must be constructed where interconnections are achieved emergently from the bottom up, thus nobody can see all the specific interactions but can still collect widespread anonymous data that can help the city make better decisions and address all its pressing common issues.
Differences between Smart Community and Smart City Systems
The corporations are already hard at work trying to build their controlled Smart City paradigm. They do this by exalting the convenience of Smart City systems in our daily lives. They are all about making things “easier” for us by creating devices that sense our environment and adapt to it. While those goals are worthwhile, they are superficial relative to the goals of the Smart Community. Smart Communities go way beyond simply sensing household and community information. Smart Community systems communicate our immediate environmental information to us so that we can know more and make better decisions. They also empower communities to collaborate, making decisions and act together in a highly coordinated and synchronized manner.
Smart Community Networks are also built on emergent peer-to-peer interactions, building a dynamic decentralized system based on natural patterns of network interactions. Smart City Networks, in contrast, are centralized and centrally controlled, allowing for secrecy of data and manipulations of network patterns of interaction. The most striking difference between the two different configurations of network is that Smart Cities centralize communication and, by extension, control through central servers that house all the city’s information and specific functions whereas Smart Communities centralize all functions in each of the nodes, therefore creating a network of servers, rather than a network of powerless terminals. This creates a distributed centralized network, that is, a network where each node is able to autonomously communicate with the entire network without external assistance. This kind of network cannot be influenced and controlled by a few individuals, serving as the basis of a much more robust, democratic and secure political system.
City Hall must help bring people together, decreasing the distance between us, so that we can co-create our future. We need systems that mimic our “real” offline lives, that can connect us effectively locally, that can reduce the space and time we have between one another, decreasing and eventually eliminating the disconnect between people and their community as a whole.
Victoria’s Amazing Opportunity
“We are at the very tipping point, where we can come together to build the first Collaborative Smart Community on Earth.”
In order to create the first Smart Community, we need a City Hall that is open to collaborative democracy. With the election of Mayor Helps, we are now at a convergence point where we can all come together to build this vision. We have a vibrant technology community, a vibrant new economy community and now we will have a vibrant City Hall interested in increasing collaboration amongst residents and the region. We are at the very tipping point, where we can come together to build the first Collaborative Smart Community on Earth. In doing so, we are not only going to attract investment to our local economy, but the attention of the whole planet, potentially changing the course of history. For the first time, we can build a civilization that collaborates peacefully to co-create our future together, rather than competing for influence and resources.
We can change everything.
We can change everything.