Leadership Articles

Smart communities need the human touch

With great technology comes great responsibility, a major one being the need to maintain that human touch where people are connected with their neighbours and enjoy the small things together. At Planet Smart City, we believe in the system of community management that uses technology to go beyond it by bringing people together.

There is a concern in some districts that in our quest to embrace smart living, we risk destroying the fabric of our communities. We already live in a world where digitization of communication is making us more insular. When was the last time any of us took out time for a social gathering with our neighbours? It is not fair to simply blame technology though; modern urban life has also to be blamed.

From a community standpoint, the belief is that bringing efficiencies in small things like cooking, travelling, shopping, etc., helps residents save on time. In this, the smart community philosophy is aligned with technologists – save time by making mundane activities easily manageable and more efficient. However, where the problem occurs is that we forget that saving time does not always translate into better living. This is why it is necessary to radically change the way we design and build communities.

At Planet Smart City, we are constantly looking at how we can do this and one way we have identified is by ensuring the social innovation practices we develop are implemented. Our Community Manager takes the lead on this, they are the ones who interact with residents, understand their needs and expectations and ensure these are met on a daily basis. 

A small, thoughtful approach but we are seeing it pay dividends in our projects. Our Community Managers come from a wide variety of fields and with different expertise. Technology’s role is to help us develop the tools around them, which help bring the benefits alive to the residents. This is an example of how technology and human intervention can work together to uplift the standard of living.

Community management means providing easy access to residents to do what they want to but don’t have means to do them. A ‘smart’ solution need not necessarily be restricted to the digital platform but it is necessary to give residents a platform they are comfortable with and that is usually the digital platform. This is where smart communities can go beyond just the technology solution.

For instance, sharing knowledge using a digital platform can elevate the quality of life by allowing us to conduct mental well-being consultations, creating a more inclusive community by conducting sign language sessions through a mobile app or ensuring older citizens can share valuable teachings with the younger generation. The possibilities are limitless! This improvement of life does not need to be restricted to just the community and can extend to surrounding communities and families.

For example, by making the purchase of local produce from surrounding regions easier for community residents, we can help create a more self-sustaining society while helping the marginalized sections of society. Technology has a huge role to play in elevating life but to have a truly happy and fulfilling life requires something more – it requires to reconnect with neighbours, enjoy the smaller things together and help one another. And while technology can provide the platform, it is up to us to take advantage of it.

Alan Marcus,
Chief Digital Strategy Officer,
Planet Smart City

Neha Shrivastava,
Community Management – India,
Planet Smart City

Read more related stories
Social Communities
Happier communities: 6 simple ways to create lasting connections

Lockdown has caused people to spend less time outside connecting with others, and more time inside looking at screens. The fact that this leads to anxiety and a fear of missing out on things is no secret. In this article, we’ll discuss six simple and meaningful ways to make lasting connections and help you overcome any negative feelings you might be experiencing.

Social Communities
Why Community Managers Matter To Our Neighbourhoods

Community Managers serve as an important link between residents and developers, supporting a mutually positive ongoing relationship. Homeowners are able to settle more comfortably into the community and the continuous dialogue among residents helps foster a greater sense of belonging and security, even in areas with legacy issues such as an association with crime.

Smart Community
Leadership Articles
A smart community is about more than technology

Though technology is an integral part of creating smart communities, a true smart community is an interconnected network of residents, businesses and service organisations, leveraging the use of technologies for economic growth, social benefits and environmental sustainability. These communities are sustainable and self-sufficient, encouraging social interactions and staying resilient in the face of increasing pressures.

We would love to hear from you
Write to us
Contact us
Contact us