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Economy

Smart Cities International: Digital Buenos Aires, Smart Small Town, More

Here is a preview of our exclusive newsletter to keep up-to-date and stay inspired by Smart City innovations from around the world.

Santiago by night
Santiago by night
Emily Liedel

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When city planners talk about the future, the increasing influx to urban centers is a source of both fear and excitement. Urban centers are, on a global scale, undoubtedly growing — some at a breakneck pace. It’s easy, however, to get caught in the illusion that cities will always grow, something that has been proven wrong by both recent and ancient history. Many cities, in fact, are designed for continual growth, depending on industries like construction that don’t fare well when the population holds steady. Yet there is nothing inherently wrong with a city with a stable population, although most agree that a declining population is usually a bad sign. The challenges facing cities with steady demographics are different, and they are often overlooked in discussions about how cities of the future will develop.

This week, in addition to other smart city news, we’ll see evidence that Chinese cities might not be destined for infinite growth, and we will also check in on a Turkish proposal to build a megacity out of nowhere.

— Emily Liedel

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THE MEANING OF SMART CITY

The term “smart city” is used to describe a wide variety of projects and goals, muses Tages Spiegel (German), and seems to mean something different to everyone who uses the phrase. Some think a smart city is a green city, some think it is a hyper-connected high-tech city and others think it is about optimization of systems. The truth about cities, the newspaper concludes, is that they are too diverse for a one-size-fits-all approach to their future. Indeed, many Central European cities have stagnant population levels and completely different challenges from a fast-growing city like Lagos, Nigeria.

VERBATIM

“For me, smartness means thinking about how we can function more autonomously. That means without gas from Russia, without nuclear power from France, without water from the Alps and without food from Spain and South America,” Tia Kansara, a British researcher and sustainability specialist, said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard(German).

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL GAP

In a connected society, people without Internet access often have a difficult time taking advantage of many of the opportunities that others take for granted. That makes providing some kind of free access to the disadvantaged important for social equity. Buenos Aires is well aware of this dynamic, and is expanding a network of digital access points throughout the city that will offer free navigation for those who can't afford their own network, La Nacion reports (Spanish).

CAN A SMALL TOWN BECOME A SMART CITY HUB?

The town of Magog, Canada, located near Montreal, is home to only 27,000 people — hardly a major metropolis. But in an effort to revitalize its once industry-dependent economy, the town is working to become a hub for technology companies working on software and hardware for smart cities, Les Affaires reports (French). And it’s already seeing success, with 25 new companies relocating to the small town over the past 18 months.


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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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