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Integrating ICTs to Reimagine the Public Realm

Photo by Samuel
In an increasingly connected environment, the adaptation of engagement media to foster positive dialogue about the allocation of public space in cities and towns is critical. Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) can be tailored to the needs of specific projects and the aspirations of every community, thus allowing our strategic approach to accommodate smart design principles to reimagine the social spaces of the cities and towns that we enjoy.

By

Date

June 25, 2020

The world as we knew it in January 2020 may not be coming back. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to quickly adapt to allow for some continuity of our daily activities under unprecedented measures, pushing us to test the limits of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) and its reliability to support new ways of interaction and collaboration. The disruptive effect of the pandemic has created unexpected opportunities to advance significant transformations in how we live, move, work, play, and heal, safely.

The depth of such opportunities is yet unknown; from the wider integration of working-from-home arrangements in regular business practices and its potential impacts on mobility patterns, transit usage and the demand for office space in traditional downtowns, to the role of governments in supporting national and local economic activities. At the core of these potential transformations though, is the future of the social life of cities and the characteristics of the space where it customarily takes place: the public realm.

San Pedro Sula

We have been collectively exploring the futuristic aspects of the urban environment for some time, successfully deploying a diverse set of tools designed to optimize mobility systems, enhance utility efficiency and increase community safety.

IBI’s Smart City Platform provides the digital environment to connect these, and other, applications under a seamless ICT system to foster a better way to manage the public realm in cities. The award-winning Bhubaneswar Smart City Master Plan in India and the recently adopted Smart City Strategy for San Pedro Sula, Honduras are just two examples of our strategic approach to advance the design of the cities of the future.

Despite differences in cultural settings, both initiatives demonstrate the possibilities created by integrating technology into city-building processes to create development opportunities tailored to the needs and aspirations of local communities.

Both plans weave ICTs through the cities’ administrative structures, facilitating coordination across business units and widening the exchange and reliability of a common data base about community needs and government performance. The implementation agenda is progressing well in both cities, building momentum through quick wins on priority issues that foster the collective resolution to tackle bigger initiatives.

A salient aspect of the Bhubaneswar and San Pedro Sula examples is that the preparation of both plans emerged from wide community engagement processes that fostered positive discussions about reimagining the future.

Our experience in working with these communities confirmed the deep penetration of ICTs across diverse cultural and economic spectrums, as well as the adaptability of local capabilities to use these as tools to improve quality of life. Breaking the “business-as-usual” approach is necessary to stimulate innovation, and the integration of ICTs in city-building provides the tools for such collective explorations.

The public realm is a common renewable resource: we can reimagine it, redesign it and infuse new vitality into it to enhance our daily experiences in city living.

In an increasingly connected environment where digital tools are rapidly evolving, the adaptation of engagement media to foster positive dialogue about the allocation of public space in cities and towns is critical. We are now focused on broadening the flexibility of our engagement toolkit to be easily deployed through digital media, allowing for synchronic and asynchronic virtual sessions to facilitate and capture discussions about the future of the public realm. These tools can be tailored to the needs of specific projects and the aspirations of every community, thus allowing our strategic approach to accommodate smart design principles to reimagine the social space of the cities and towns that we enjoy.

 

View Bhubaneswar Smart City Strategy and Implementation project

Bhubaneswar Smart City Strategy and Implementation

Bhubaneswar, India

Our award-winning 2015 Smart City Strategy for Bhubaneswar established a Program Management Unit with over 30 staff in the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited, to produce the nerve centre of Bhubaneswar’s pan-city technology plan.

View San Pedro Sula Urban Municipal Master Plan project

San Pedro Sula Urban Municipal Master Plan

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

The San Pedro Sula Municipal Development Plan (PMDM) emerged from the community’s aspirations to transform their city – the industrial capital of Honduras – into a Smart City that puts people first. Under IBI Group’s leadership, the plan highlights the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the collection and dissemination of critical data to foster better decision making, break traditional silos, and strengthen inter-municipal coordination.


Samuel is a results-oriented professional planner with more than twenty five years of experience leading professional teams to achieve integrated development initiatives of urban and regional scale. Samuel contributes competent expertise acquired through public and private sector positions in various locations in North America, with emphasis on project visioning, planning, budgeting, management and execution. Particular areas of interest include integrated project leadership; urban land development; land use and transportation synergies; integration of placemaking design and Smart City tools and regional planning and development.

Headshot of Samuel Alatorre

Written by Samuel Alatorre

Senior Planner
Calgary, AB
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