Smart Cities

My exploration into “Smart Cities” originated from one of my courses at OISE/UT called Knowledge, Media, and Learning (KMD2003).  For two weeks of the course, myself and two other students were tasked with leading all activities, readings, and discussion related to the “Smart Cities” course theme.  (Other course themes included Smart Health, Smart Education, and Smart Lifestyle).

The literature that informed our work included Charles Montgomery’s 2013 book, Happy City, and Anthony Townsend’s 2013 book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers And The Quest For A New Utopia.  We also used the following articles as assigned readings for our topic:

Chowdhury, B., & Chowdhury, M. U. (2007). RFID-based real-time smart waste management system. In 2007 Australasian Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (pp. 175–180).

IBM Energy & Environment. (2011, August 3). Cognitive buildings [CT402]. Retrieved from

Khansari, N., Mostashari, A., & Mansouri, M. (2014). Conceptual Modeling of the Impact of Smart Cities on Household Energy Consumption. Procedia Computer Science, 28, 81–86.

Kostakos, V., Ojala, T., & Juntunen, T. (2013). Traffic in the Smart City: Exploring City-Wide Sensing for Traffic Control Center Augmentation. IEEE Internet Computing, 17(6), 22–29.

To engage our classmates in thinking about various aspects of Smart Cities, students were first asked to choose an area of specialization from among five choices:
  1. Transportation and mobility
  2. Buildings and architecture
  3. Resource and energy consumption
  4. Pollution and waste production/management
  5. Safety, security, and policing

Within their specializations, students read articles and prepared a written reflection on their topic prior to the in-class meetings.  Students also engaged in discussion with their classmates on the course wiki.

Next, when students arrived to class, we engaged them in a “Smart Cities” design challenge.  Here, students worked in their specialist groups to design a city according to specified parameters.  During the 3-hour class session, each group produced a map of their city, which we then digitized into a collaborative editing platform.  The following class, these digital maps were distributed to jigsaw groups (i.e. containing one representative from each specialization), who then had to improve upon these designs—negotiating trade-offs from the perspective of their different specializations.

During our final “Smart Cities” session, we also had an invited guest-lecture from Denise Pinto—the former Executive Director of Jane’s Walk Toronto.

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