Ways you can work on smart city development

By Emma Smith 10 March 2017

Prasitchai Chaiamarit, a civil engineering PhD student in Thailand. Photo by: Gerhard Jörén / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

As people around the world continue to migrate to cities in search of jobs and opportunities, developing smarter and more sustainable cities is key to tackling the poverty and inequality that can occur in these urban environments. It is estimated that by 2050, some two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Smart design and solutions are needed to ensure these are safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for the communities.

A smart cities approach can help achieve this and improve living standards for citizens through the provision of adequate housing and services, access to sustainable transport and green energy, among other things. While innovative technologies play a huge part in offering smart solutions, designing and maintaining truly smart cities is not possible without the contribution of skilled and talented professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. Here is an overview of just some of the ways to work in today’s smart cities.

Research roles to inform decisions

Research is fundamental to building smart cities — whether it’s talking to citizens about access to green public spaces or investigating the need for better waste management systems. Researchers are essential to identify problems and provide insight and data to inform decisions and shape solutions. Analysis of different approaches and practices is also critical to ensure the future application of the most effective and sustainable approaches. Researches tend to dive deep into a specialty — for example in urban water conservation — to produce literature reviews, desk reports and case studies.

Research is also key to community participation and allowing citizens to voice their opinions. Christel Augsburg, who has experience consulting in smart cities and sustainability, believes research professionals will increasingly be in demand because, in a lot of cases, cities are still creating solutions without knowing if the citizens even want them.

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About the author

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Emma Smith

Emma Smith is a reporting and communications associate at Devex, based in Barcelona. She focuses on bringing the latest career and hiring trends, tips, and insights to our global development community. Emma has a background in journalism and, in addition to writing for news publications, has worked with organizations focusing on child rights and women’s rights in sustainable development.


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