Singapore
Global Centre for Technology, Innovation
and Sustainable Development

Smart Cities

Building and shaping inclusive, liveable, and sustainable urban areas is an essential development priority - reflected by the Global Centre's creation of a dedicated smart cities and digitalisation programme. Smart cities use technology and innovation to improve the urban environment - leading to improved quality of life, greater prosperity and sustainability, and engaged and empowered citizens.  Singapore, home to the Global Centre, has been consistently recognised as a leading smart city.

 

The problem we are solving

Urbanisation is a defining trend of the 21st Century. By 2050, nearly 70% of the world's population - an additional 2.5 billion people - will live in urban areas. Much of this increase in urbanisation will occur in Africa and Asia. These regions will experience an increase in both 'megacities' and smaller urban settlements - with particular urban concentration in a small number of countries: China, India, and Nigeria.

Accompanying the pace and extent of urbanisation are a number of positive and negative trends - from increased economic opportunities, improvements in lives and livelihoods, through to the potential for greater urban-rural disparity, lower quality-of-life, and conflict. 

Building and shaping inclusive, liveable, and sustainable urban areas which are called Smart Cities, is an essential development priority - reflected by the Global Centre's creation of a dedicated smart cities and digitalisation programme.

For the Global Centre, smart cities are about using innovation at its broadest - whether technology, different ways of working, or even nature-based solutions - to improve the urban environment. Technology has significant potential to make a difference, but improvements can also come from good city management, skilled public workers and well-planned public realms, and citizen engagement and inclusion. Smart cities are about people, and not just about technology.

Poverty, slum. Poor fishing village in Asia

Our Key Initatives

The smart cities and digitalisation programme is split into two broad aspects: thematic 'city challenge' areas, and foundational smart city 'drivers'. These two aspects are underpinned by our guiding principles of taking a systems approach, prioritising inclusivity and sustainability, focusing on being practical and outcomes-focused; and building on the multi-decade partnership between UNDP and the government, and people, of Singapore. This includes drawing on the unique accomplishments of Singapore in becoming a globally-recognised smart city.

Thematic areas

Drawing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the six UNDP 'signature solution' areas, the Global Centre's smart city and digitalisation programme centres around three thematic areas:

  • Inclusive Cities: Cities are the closest administration to citizens and have real potential to create inclusive societies. Innovation can facilitate equal access to public services, empower citizens, and increase security and safety.
  • Sustainable Cities: Cities need to use their limited resources in the most efficient way - ensuring that they are smartly distributed and avoiding waste.   
  • Adaptable Cities: Cities need to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, including air pollution, implementing  sustainable mobility systems, and increasing their resilience  to face these and other challenges.

 

Smart city 'drivers'

Creating the urban settlements of the future demands a fundamental and wholesale shift in the role of technology and innovation in an urban context, as well as the need to engage with the new ways of thinking, working, and governing that these developments will require. These drivers are: digital infrastructure, data management and analysis, smart city governance, and financing and innovative partnerships.

These two aspects are underpinned by our guiding principles of taking a systems approach, prioritising inclusivity and sustainability, focusing on being practical and outcomes-focused; and building on the multi-decade partnership between UNDP and the government, and people, of Singapore. This includes drawing on the unique accomplishments of Singapore in becoming a globally-recognised smart city.

 

 

Aerial shot of a modern sustainable neighbourhood in Almere, The Netherlands
Smart Cities - Building - 10001

 

How you can partner

 

The Global Centre's smart city programme is founded on collaboration with UNDP Country Offices in order to provide their city partners with the technical expertise, knowledge, and partnerships needed to drive sustainable smart city projects and initiatives.

The programme is split into five areas: smart city delivery, shaping a community of practice, developing a smart city insights platform, sharing knowledge, and building expertise.

Each of these services are offered remotely, and in-country, and through working with partners around the world.

 

Want to start a conversation?

If you have enquiries, comments and feedback on our focus areas or would like to partner with the Global Centre please get in touch.

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