Smart Cities: Digital Economies and Digital Societies in 4IR
Elective Class for the Master of Science in Urban Science, Policy and Planning (2018 course code: 02.546)

Led by: POON King Wang, Dr Samuel CHNG, and Dr Thijs WILLEMS

“How do I make the smart city work?”

This course is designed specially for MUSPP students by the LKYCIC to answer this question, as they embark on related careers in industry, government and academia. In fact, several of the class topics covered over the years — see below — were based on the requests and interest areas of each cohort of students taking the course.

Students need not have a technical background. All they need is a capacity to respect each other’s intellect, and to be willing to have a robust discussion with each other in the safety of the classroom. That way, we can build on each other’s ideas, and advance our individual and collective understanding.

The course links smart city theory and practice. It will equip students with an understanding of the different domains and stakeholders in the smart city. It will trace the evolution and development of smart cities, as well as the technologies, systems, and urban infrastructure that underpin them. The case for and the criticisms against smart cities will be examined, with a strong emphasis on the human and social dimensions. The impact of emerging economic and societal trends, especially the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), will also be explored.

To help students better link theory and practice, specific stakeholders across the public, private and people sectors will be invited throughout the term to share the challenges they are facing. Students will then discuss and in some cases co-develop ideas and solutions with these stakeholders. Students will thus gain a deeper understanding of how theory and practice map to challenges and opportunities, how these might be similar and/or different in different urban systems and across different sectors, and what it means to create value for cities and citizens.

An example of linking theory to practice, class discussions and practitioner engagement, and co-development of ideas and solutions is the Smart Cities Toolkit. This was designed in partnership with the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development. The Smart Cities Toolkit aims to give smart city leaders in low and middle income countries an easy way to integrate four broad dimensions that are common to all smart city endeavours: Projects, People, Policies, and Pathways.

Class topics covered over the years include the following:
– Smart Cities: What Problem Are We Really Solving
– Past, Present, and Future of Smart Cities
– Life in the Smart City
– Strategies and Policies and the Influence of Culture and History
– Smart City Technologies: Adoption and Diffusion Challenges (e.g. in Mobility)
– Arguing Against the Smart City
– Understanding Stakeholders: Startup, SME, MNC, Government, Regional, and Global
– Societal Issues in the Smart City
– Impact on Rural Communities
– Future of Work and the 4IR
– Role of Educational Institutions in Smart Cities
– Building a Data Lake – Architecture, Policies and Processes
– How to Treat Your Technical Team with Respect
– Re-imagining and Re-visiting Smart Cities

By the end of the course, students would have developed their own point of view of smart cities. This becomes a personal and professional resource for them as they embark on the next stage of their careers as practitioners, academics or policy makers.