Smart Cities, Digital Connectivity, and Social Inclusion: Paving the way to inclusive urban strategies

by Enora Robin

Cities have become key players in the global economic landscape, with only 600 cities contributing to 60% of the world’s economic output. The proportion of world’s population living in urban areas is projected to be rising from 50% today to 75% in 2050. Despite the economic benefits derived from the concentration of economic activities, concern has emerged about the negative externalities of urbanised modes of development. As a response to these challenges, more attention has been given to inclusive and sustainable urban modes of development that would reconcile the objectives of sustainability and economic competitiveness. The concept of smart cities has gained in popularity among policy-makers over the last two decades. However, smart city programmes have often been focusing on the development of ICT infrastructures. This brief article argues that digital strategies must be complemented by policies that improve people’s and local firms’ ability to grasp the potential benefits of these new technological and networking opportunities.

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