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What you need to know:

  • Smart cities are urban settings planned technologically to improve quality of life and services, enhance security, and collect up-to-date data.
  • For urban centres to function efficiently in the coming years, experts urge that they be designed to withstand climate shocks.

Climate change and the increasing urban populations are creating new demand for smart cities with capacity to provide efficient services while using resources sustainably.

Smart cities are urban settings planned technologically to improve quality of life and services, enhance security, and collect up-to-date data. For urban centres to function efficiently in the coming years, experts urge that they be designed to withstand climate shocks such as weather patterns and changing environmental conditions. They should also aim for less emissions and better waste management.

Currently, however, most cities and towns have aging infrastructure, with water, drainage, transport and waste management systems failing to meet demand levels. This is because they have exceeded their lifespan, far before planned expansion or replacement.

Mr Oscar Kirui, a trader in Nairobi's Eastlands, says failure to plan ahead has resulted in poor living standards for many as the population in towns and cities continues to increase, affecting people's productivity and hampering businesses.

He says planning for efficient urban centres should involve consulting residents, businesses and industry operators to discuss how best to allocate services and resources.

"Services should be categorised based on people's needs and demand projections. That way, people will receive services more equitably regardless of where they live and according to their activities," he said.

Mr Eric Nyadimo, president of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK), says climate change and the growing urban population are putting pressure on planners to embrace ideals in green urban design such as renewable energy, pollution-efficient transport, water conservation and waste management.

In the past, urban managers have spent money repairing the existing service facilities without considering upgrading them with new installations that meet smart city specifications. Sustainable urban practices will create a demand for carbon credit valuers, green building experts and surveyors who can plan for clean energy efficiency and water and material management.

"Setting up modern climate-resilient urban settlements with a green concept will need extensive planning, which begins with surveying and mapping resources to ensure their sustainability. This involves activities like land use planning, environmental impact assessments, mapping and monitoring, valuation for carbon credits and resource management, among others," Mr Nyadimo explains.

Dr Romanus Opiyo, a sustainable urbanisation specialist at the Stockholm Environment Institute Africa Centre, Nairobi, outlines the need for climate scientists to be integrated into urban design.

"Climate scientists advise on projected climate and weather trends, which will help city administrators and managers with forward planning for the people's safety and socio-economic activities," states Dr Opiyo.

Further, he explains that urban planners are working with landscape architects for nature-based solutions such as solar street lighting to reduce carbon emissions, green landscaping for heating control, water harvesting, and cycle lanes and walkways for non-motorised transport.

He adds that smart cities should adopt progressive development control policies through public participation and stakeholders' engagement. "New buildings should be modelled to have solar installations, water harvesting mechanisms and waste separation facilities, while old infrastructures should be given an agreeable time to meet the green built conditions," says Dr Opiyo.

Mr Wafula Nabutola, the chairperson of the Building Surveyors Registration Board of Kenya and a former chairman of the Central Business District Association, says: “Climate change demands that we stop building without long-term planning. We must construct cities in line with increased population projections and conform to specifications and standards by the Kenya Bureau of Standards."

According to Mr Nyadimo, a digital land records database is the start of the smart cities process as it will allow various stakeholders to undertake transactions digitally. This includes land ownership, acreage, dimensions, value and data use. The digitisation process should be done in phases so that not all aspects are introduced at once. This will allow users and various stakeholders to adapt to the changes and reduce the resistance that is common in any change process.

Dr Opiyo emphasises that development control guidelines and cities’ land use development plan should be reviewed and aligned to the climate reduction targets at the national level.

Mr Nabutola says that to have smart cities running sustainably, we as a country need to create climate awareness at the basic education level going towards college, emulating Japan, which has adopted a policy for conditioning baby class children to be environment conscious.

To advance this progress, outdated legal and regulatory frameworks covering various professionals need to be reviewed to accommodate climate change and green buildings. These include the Survey Act, the Valuers Act, the Building Surveyors Act, and the Estate Agents Act.

Mr Nyadimo states that youth should be taught smart cities' built environment skills and technologies. ISK is coordinating with universities offering real estate courses to include the green build concepts to ensure that upcoming graduates are relevant for the much-needed skills. This will make them appreciate their new environment and be part of the modern climate and environmental realities.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Peter Musa

Quelle/Source: Nation.Africa, 22.06.2024

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