The smart city concept appeared in the eighties of the last century, linked to the problems of growing urbanisation and concerns about sustainability and efficient management of resources, continuing, in this last decade, to be a concept associated with decarbonisation and the reduction of gas emissions with an impact on climate change. It is estimated that more than 60% of the world’s population lives clustered around urban centres and that in 2050, 70% of the population will be urban. It is certain that population projections in Europe between 2004 and 2050, outline a scenario in which the percentage of elderly people in Portugal will practically double between 2004 (16.9% of the population) and 2050 (31.9%). Cities are therefore major centres of resource consumption, and are indicated as being responsible for the consumption of 75% of the world’s energy and for producing 80% of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect.
However, if the concept of smart city emerges associated with this concern to implement sustainable territories and communities, today the concept is changing and is, above all, linked to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), featuring in its design the use of high-tech, software, algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, both in its governance and in the practices of its social fabric. The processing of personal data and artificial intelligence are, in this context, the greatest concern regarding the issue.
Whatever the city of the future is or will be, whether it be more green-sustainable or more digital-ICT, what is absolutely important is that the city be designed from the people and for the people who live in it, and they should be placed at the centre of the choices of technologists, politicians and jurists. Cities must offer quality of life, enable full human development and ensure that the people who live there are happy, and, finally, it is certain that no one can be excluded or removed from it, whether due to lack of digital literacy, lack of adequate infrastructure, or due to economic weaknesses or any other reasons that may justify leaving anyone behind, as stated in the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The implementation of sustainable cities is a global challenge, which the Smart Cities and Law, E.governance and Rights (JusGov) project has been following for over 24 months and is the topic that the group of researchers assigned to the project will discuss, in the company of several guest experts, during the Cities Week, between 12 and 16 June, at the School of Law, in a hybrid model.
All are invited.
EDUM – University of Minho Law School
JusGov – Centre for Research in Justice and Governance
Professora Doutora Isabel Celeste Monteiro Fonseca