A vision for the cities of the future

The managing director of Boston Consulting Group Italy Nicola Pianon presents the results of the research carried out in partnership with Domus.

This year once again sees the focus of domusforum introduced through a preview of the results of a study carried out for Domus by a leading international institute for research and strategic consultancy. 

The research partner for the third edition is the Boston Consulting Group, and the managing director for Italy, Nicola Pianon, will be illustrating the results of A Vision for the Cities of the Future.

BCG has based its studies on the identification of six paradigms around which the idea of the city of the future is developing: liveability, digitalisation, the capacity to innovate and respond to crises, sustainability and social cohesion.  

It is a complex idea, mutable by nature, which should be capable of bringing together the needs of citizens, administration, institutions and businesses and permitting them to coexist. 

It is an extraordinarily difficult challenge, but there are a number of cities, and not necessarily the most financially advantaged, that have already made moves to overcome it. Global investment regarding the theme of smart cities totalled just over half a trillion dollars in 2018, reaching almost one trillion in this tormented 2020. Pre-pandemic forecasts place the amount at around 2.4 trillion in 2025. 

At least with regards to smart cities, there seem not to be any confines or cultural divides. While historically virtuous cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Stockholm are successfully working respectively on intelligent urban lighting, waste recycling for energy production and high-tech services for citizens, there are also more unexpected locations that appear to be rapidly moving in the right direction. Casablanca is working to become a green smart city, 
São Paulo is focusing on technological solutions for reducing water wastage, and Baku in Azerbaijan is studying a new master plan aimed at ecological, economic and social sustainability. 

On the basis of the six paradigms that make up the city of tomorrow, the analysis carried out by BCG identifies and describes in detail just as many types of future city: the Liveable city, which offers its residents good quality of life through smart infrastructure, accessible services and a sustainable environment; the Digital city, which pioneers smart city solutions driven by highly connected and “digital by default” services; the Innovation city, which fosters innovation through a strong ecosystem of talent, VC, start-ups and tech; the Resilient city, one that rapidly responds to and effectively addresses situations of crisis; the Socially empowered city, which reduces the digital divide between segments of society, providing equitable access to services; the city that is able to quickly return to normality, and the Sustainable city, which monitors and minimises environmental impact while transitioning to a green economy.

One textbook example of a Sustainable city identified by BCG is Venice, to which the final part of A Vision for the Cities of the Future is dedicated.

A problem city by definition, Venice is currently facing three distinct challenges: a level of mass tourism that is out of control, with the number of tourists in peak periods outnumbering residents four to one; climate change, which is subjecting the city to the ever-increasing risk of high water, and the progressive fall in population numbers caused by an ever-more inaccessible cost of living. The risk is that the city could become a permanently flooded theme park devoid of residents. 

However, Venice has the opportunity to fight this destiny. In fact, by exploiting the attraction it has held over time, the city could present itself as a global icon of sustainability. 

This is the objective of the VenISIA (Venice entrepreneurial international Sustainability Innovation Accelerator), aimed principally at transforming Venice into an accelerator of innovation for the development of solutions targeted at sustainability and combatting climate change.

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