agile and sustainable cities

With the “The Coolest Hotspot”, Québec consolidates its international recognition as a stronghold of innovation and expertise in life sciences and health tech

 

by Antonio Biondi / Priscila Crispi

According to the World Bank, global demand for mobility should double by 2030. If the current traveling pattern is maintained in most of the world’s metropolises, there will be a lot more cars circulating in the coming decades. This type of transport is responsible for 24% of global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the report of the International Energy Agency, and, although lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 have reduced these emissions, their increase has been so significant that the International Transport Forum foresees an increase of 16% in CO2 emissions by 2050.

What can be done to solve this challenge, one of the biggest ones of today’s large urban centers? And what should be done to ensure the sustainability of cities and, consequently, their survival in the future? Driven by new consumption habits and the activism of its citizens, initiatives that bring together private, governmental and international efforts are underway, and of course, there has been a lot of discussion about the most efficient city model for environmentally responsible mobility.

Social demand

According to Wunderman Thompson data, 79% of global consumers claim to be interested in brand tips and advice on a more sustainable life.

In response to this demand, in October 2021 Google announced the launch of three new environmentally-aware options on Google Maps, which include eco-routing, biker-oriented navigation, and micromobility alternatives.

The use of mobility applications is very important in solutions such as mobility as a service (Maas), a concept that integrates urban transport logistics to digital platforms that facilitate its use. The bad news is that it presupposes public mobility policies for its operation, because technology alone cannot influence the patterns of displacement in a city.

“Maas is not just software based. If you want alternative transportation services other than passenger cars to be used, they need to exist and be available when and where you need them. The software is merely a facilitator,” pondered Ronan Perrier, CEO of Arval BNP Paribas, a company specialized in leasing corporate vehicles, during the Movin’On Inside, an innovation incentive event for mobility sustainability promoted by the Michelin Foundation.

More than digital

Also linked to the idea of using technologies for city management, the term smart cities has been widely used in urban planning discussions in recent decades. Experts argue, however, that the digitalization of cities needs to go hand in hand with planning and infrastructure policies.

“An example always used when talking about smart cities is the sensors available in the dumps to make garbage collection intelligent. Often, you’ll find this in areas that are extremely susceptible to flooding, in regions where mobility is completely focused on cars, etc. Taking this example, I don’t believe we can talk about smart cities just based on the use of digital technologies,” says Myriam Tschiptschin, Manager at the Centro de Tecnologia de Edificações (CTE) (Center for Building Technology). Acting in the construction sector, CTE is responsible for developments and city planning projects aimed at sustainability, such as Porto Maravilha, in Rio de Janeiro.

Myriam explains that, in the development of smart city projects, the company focuses on nine objectives, which include energy efficiency, governance, health and well-being, among others. The application of solutions for mobility and accessibility is one of these central axes for a city to be truly smart. “I believe that when thinking about smart cities for the future, we must take into account the issue of mobility infrastructure in the light of inequalities and segregation in urban centers. We need to act to develop more inclusive and more humane cities, and we must not fail to think about climate change and the need for cities that are more resilient to these changes,” he argues.
For Paulo Rizzardi, a professor and founder of Wise Innovation, we must go even further — and think about cities that are wise, not only smart. The concept of wise cities favors the vocation of each territory to exploit potential in the development of an innovation strategy. Wise cities take into account academic, political, popular and historical knowledge, bringing together all social actors to choose solutions that apply to the local context.

“Undoubtedly, among the challenges that arise in a post-pandemic world, the goal of designing and implementing a successful mobility strategy will require wisdom. I understand the mobility revolution through three major phenomena: micromobility, with life happening in neighborhoods; technology and digital transformation; and sustainability. The suggestion is to begin by understanding the needs of each city and the willingness of citizens to use new forms of transport”, says Paulo.

Canadian example

Considered one of the world’s pioneers in the creation of smart cities and the development of mobility solutions, Canada not only develops technologies and infrastructure, but also presents innovative management and planning models, which, in the opinion of Arminio Calonga Junior, responsible for the Business Development area of CCBC, is one of the main tools that the country has to offer to Brazilian city administrators.

“Canada and Brazil have some challenges in common, such as geographic size, remote areas, and large urban agglomerations. We know that they have good mobility solutions, Brazil has demands and we have the ability to bridge this gap, tropicalizing the models and bringing them to our reality. So, this year, we are going to have a mission that will focus not only on technology solutions, but will seek to understand the whole picture — which plans of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal governments for the coming years will set the goals for developing smart cities”, he says.

 

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