Our recent participation in the Marmara Urban Forum (MARUF23) has opened new perspectives on the concept of a smart city, raising intriguing questions about its development. This international urban forum, organized in Istanbul by the Union of Marmara Municipalities, brought together a diverse audience of officials, politicians, experts, and representatives from international organizations to explore the theme of Urban Innovation.
The invitation to participate in the panel “Smart city: Hype or Not,” with Raffaele Gareri as speaker with Sven Gerst, was a fascinating opportunity to discuss a crucial issue: Can cities become “smart” without making technology the central focus of this transformation? The session was expertly moderated by Melike Nur Ulsever, who facilitated lively and enlightening discussions.
The interaction among participants, including officials from Turkish local administrations and experts from international organizations, contributed to making the discussion highly engaging. The wide variety of perspectives represented emphasized how crucial it is to consider the specific needs of each community in adopting “smart” solutions.
The session highlighted that while technology plays an important role in smart cities, it should not be the sole focus. Smart cities should aim to enhance the quality of life for citizens involving and engaging them, promote sustainability, and optimize the efficiency of public services. Technology should be a tool, not an end in itself.
In conclusion, MARUF23 reminded us that smart cities are not merely a technological concept but a vision that entails a holistic approach to urban futures. Transforming cities into intelligent environments requires a balanced approach that takes into account the needs of communities and environmental challenges. Our commitment within The Smart City Association Italy (TSCAI) is to continue promoting and developing best practices that enable cities to grow smart, sustainably, and inclusively, always keeping the well-being of citizens at the forefront.