Thursday 6 May 2021
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Enabling smarter and efficient cities through revitalisation

In current times we are seeing an increasing demand for better living in both the downtown and CBD areas across the world.

This is due to the enormous social, economic and environment values that it can have on a city. This article explains how Namibian cities and towns can revitalise themselves. Furthermore, I explain how the power of computing can be leveraged to re-energise cities and make them smarter.

Therefore, improve the living conditions of residents, enhance governance and efficiency. In this data driven era, our cities/towns are growing at an exponential rate, and in order for them to be successful they need to be properly managed. Moreover, they need to continue reinventing themselves, thus maintain their relevance and attract new residents. Although, strategic policies can play a crucial role, policies are just one part and will not bring new life and or energy to our towns and cities. The world is changing rapidly, and the only other thing that has been able to keep up with this change or influence how this change looks like, is Technology.

From its early days, technology has shown that it’s able to change how people think and behave. Moreover, technology has also played as a key enabler in the transformation of many industries, from industrial control systems, automation to service delivery in remote areas. World over, it is believed that cities/towns are using about 80% of the world’s energy. This is insanely high; however, technology can play a crucial role in helping cities better manage their energy consumption. Moreover, cities/towns can rely on renewable technologies and smart management solutions for sustainable energy and make their cities smarter.

Revitalisation of cities doesn’t only entail efficient management of city resources but it’s also about transforming the entire ecosystem of the city or town. And at the centre of this transformation is the people, getting inhabitants involved through civic engagement and making them feel part of the city. In this regard, technology in a form of applications both mobile/desktop can be used to set up a platform that will allow citizens to participate in governance by engaging authorities. The second important aspect of the revitalisation of any city/town is mobility, the ability for residents to conveniently and safely move around in the streets and within the entire town at any time of the day. Many cities in Africa are still lagging behind in terms of public transportation, especially at night. This causes the CBD to become inactive and abandoned after a certain hour, a typical example of one such a city is Windhoek after 18h00.

An integrated public transportation system will play an essential role in increasing the mobility of our city and bringing life back to our CBD after hours. Today cities across the world are doing introspections, in order to keep themselves relevant. Furthermore, the battle between cities is no longer about who manufactures the most goods but who is creative enough to attract the best minds by providing them with opportunities to be creative and innovative, who will greatly contribute to the urban development of the city or town. If we are to take a glimpse at some of our small towns and village councils in Namibia, one can see that they are really lagging behind in terms of development.

Although lack of funding for capital projects is being attributed to the lack of development. Municipalities and local authorities are equally to be blamed because of their failure to bring about new thinking that will enable everyone to equally participate in the local economy. In this day and age, where citizens are looking for the best opportunities to be creative and innovative, cities/towns will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

Additionally, decentralisation will not stop cities from growing. It is the most creative cities that will continue to attract the best talents and creative minds, who will in return create start-ups that will create jobs and alleviate poverty. Our towns and villages should not be left behind, they should capitalise on the internet of everything (IoE) and open data to create new urban solutions to better connect citizens to public transportation, enhance risk warnings and urban environmental monitoring.

Local authorities and municipalities have the responsibility to ensure the data they collect is available for the public to access, enabling entrepreneurs and innovators to leverage this data to improve services delivery and create an accountable and transparent Namibian house.

Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds a B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing         MSc. Computer Science.

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