Author | Jaime RamosThe fully realized smart city ideal offers a tool that goes beyond the advanced use of technology to improve the life of its citizens: the capacity to enable citizens to have a say not just in matters related to public affairs, but the city's own urban organization.
The future of urban planningOne of the finest examples of this democratic instrument is the possibility of being involved in the urban planning process. A process which, traditionally, has not included the average citizen. Neighborhood associations and related groups have fought in recent years for the voices of the people to be heard.Despite this and the fact that regulations now establish some formulas for engagement (such as social councils in cities), local authorities have the last word in terms of urban design and street furniture. Smart cities aims to overthrow this model. In terms of urban design, the future of urban planning goes beyond simply listening to citizens, to actually place them at the center of all strategies.
Setting an example in participative urban planningThe capital of the state of Utah, Salt Lake City, has around 200,000 inhabitants in its historic center and it seeks to establish a precedent in the area of smart urban planning. In fact, the project has begun by revolutionizing the classic street typologies applied in this area. Until now, there were three types of roads in the United States:
- Collectors or distributors.
Salt Lake City’s smart urban planning projectCitizens have a real say in this task. Salt Lake City launched a survey last Autumn, which defined up to 15 types of roads, based on the different urban functionalities. This not only enables greater engagement, but also opens the door to customized urban planning designs.The new typologies are applied to over 8,400 roads in the center and they are included in a guide with real models made public by the authorities. To create these, five factors regarding public use spaces were taken into account:
- Personal mobility, in terms of pedestrians, bikes and PMVs.
- Mobility of other vehicles.
- The environment (greening), relating to minimum sustainability requirements and green spaces.
- That is, the concept of a street as a social activity and not just as a walking exercise.
- Use of sidewalks.