独家专访 | Philipp Späth博士:如何让城市更“智慧”

   Philipp Späth博士


Philipp Späth博士多年从事环境社会学、智慧生态城市等方面的相关研究及实践,他认为建设智慧城市只有在考虑了当地具体环境以及参与公众的优先权的前提下才有意义,因此最好让人们自己决定哪些因素能让所在地区或城市变得更加“智慧”。

采访记者:陈岑(大景观网 资深编辑)
Philipp Späth


Q: What’s the exact definition of “Smart City”? And what are the fundamental requirements to successfully build a smart city? 

 There are many definitions circulating. And I am certain there will never one scientific definition that will be widely accepted, because the objects at hand, Smart Cities, are very complex, multi-facetted entities, which you can be interested in for very many reasons. Furthermore, I am convinced that a Smart City initiative in a particular city can only be meaningful if locally specific circumstances and specific priorities of the people involved have been considered. So let the people in each place decide individually what they consider relevant for making their city or region “smart”. As a starting point of debates, I often refer to the shortest definition of them all: A smart city is one “in which ICT is merged with traditional infrastructures, coordinated and integrated using new digital technologies.” (Batty et al. 2012)
智慧城市的定义有很多,很难说其中有哪一个解释能广泛地被大部分人所接受,因为智慧城市是一个很复杂并且多元化的事物,人们可能因为很多原因而对此感兴趣。而且我确信,如果要在某一个特定的地方倡导智慧城市,只有在考虑了当地具体环境以及参与公众的优先权的前提下才有意义。所以最好是让每个地方的人们自己决定哪些因素能让他们所在的城市或地区变得更“智慧”。作为讨论智慧城市的引子,我通常参考的是最简短的定义:智慧城市是在城市中协同一体化地使用新型数字技术将ICT(信息和通讯技术)与传统基础设施进行融合(Batty et al. 2012)。

Q: What are the differences and relations between “Eco City” and “Smart City”?


A: The term Eco-City, just as the term Smart City, is used very widely today with many diverse meanings, most of which relate to urban developments with a view to marketing new flats, districts or cities in a competitive environment. They also depict broad guiding visions of urban development, which are strongly influencing professional debates (i.e. among planners and politicians) about urban development world-wide. Usage of the term Eco-City usually indicates an emphasis on material qualities (like energetic standards) of buildings in a new development or area of retrofits. The label Smart City, in contrast, usually hints to an emphasis on “software”, like the use of urban data. But we often see the terms used in combination. And for most Smart City initiatives, at least for most European ones, ecological benefits are announced to be the main drivers and sources of legitimation, too. 

Q: How to use the social science approach to build a smart city?


A: Social sciences can help a lot when urban development is taken to different paths. The new ideal of a Smart City can have, for example, many implications with regard to the accessibility of infrastructures, goods and services in cities. These can be roughly anticipated in the sense of systematic technology assessments and policy analyses. Also the effects of new actor constellations, when e.g. city administrations partner with private technology providers, can be anticipated and put up for discussion with reference to concepts from governance and science & technology studies. In my view, any kind of urban planning should build on a thorough understanding of the (future) needs of the citizens, and this should include more than basic needs, acknowledging for example the need to meet neighbors and to communicate directly on a regular basis. For these subtler dimensions of “place making”, a sociological view is – in my view – indispensable. 

Q: Can you please talk about the development process and status quo of smart city in Germany?


A: We have scrutinized the internet presentations of all 81 German cities, which are considered “large cities” because they accommodate more than 100,000 inhabitants. On the official websites, we found a declared will to develop into a smart (or intelligent, digital, ubiquitous etc.) city only in less than half of the cases. Multiple activities in more than one sector plus some coordination we find in only 19 of these large cities. This makes Germany one of the European countries least influenced by the idea of smart cities. Some cities are nevertheless actively promoted as frontrunners. The three biggest cities, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich are among them. Much depends on funding opportunities, though. Since national funding is usually limited to research and experimentation, most activities are also confined to experiments in delineated sites like newly developed districts. Calls in the EU Framework Program “Horizon 2020” are therefore quite important. Munich has won a bid together with Vienna and Lyon last year and has just started to implement a series of activities. 
我们有仔细看过德国81个城市在互联网上的汇报,这81个城市因为人口超过10万而被认为是“大城市”,在这些城市的官网上,其中有公告发展智慧城市(或智能城市、数字城市、数字化城市等)愿景的不到半数,而在多个领域有相关项目及合作的只有19个城市,这些数据显示德国是欧洲国家中受到智慧城市理念影响最小的国家之一。尽管如此,还是有些德国城市被看作是智慧城市的领跑者,比如德国前三大城市——柏林、汉堡和慕尼黑便位列其中(智慧城市的发展很大程度依赖于资金赞助),因为通常国家用于研究和实验方面的资金有限,所以很多项目也被限制于在某些圈定的场地(比如新开发区)范围内进行实验,因此欧盟基金项目“地平线2020”(Horizon 2020)就非常重要了。另外慕尼黑联合维也纳和里昂在去年赢得了一个投标,刚刚开始实施一系列活动方案。

Q: As a co-founder of housing cooperative “Genova” in Vauban, Freiburg, can you please talk about the development process of Vauban? What lessons can be learned from the case while building a smart city?


A: Vauban is a district of Freiburg in South-West Germany, which was developed since the1990s on a former military area at the southern fringe of the city. I find this development still very remarkable, and actually outstanding, because of the extent to which civil society actors were able to influence the planning process here and the emerging social live in the new district. Due to several factors, activists were able to fund and professionalize their work, forcing the city administration to follow their ambition of setting an example how a district can be planned in a participatory way and become a showcase of urban sustainability. What I find most striking is the effects that this engagement and participatory approach had: Many people who came to live in this new district were inspired to discover the dreams they had about their preferred urban environment. And they created themselves many opportunities to actually shape this environment. Some created a housing-cooperative to enable also lower income groups to live in the district; some founded another cooperative to establish an organic shop, which soon become a very successful retailer cum meeting place, some built and now care for a community oven, etc. Unfortunately, in Freiburg, key actors have not followed up on the lessons that can be drawn from this successful development in later and ongoing developments. But elsewhere, in Vienna, for example, it seems that the lessons that one can draw from this successful development have fallen on fruitful ground. 

The key lesson of Vauban is for me that you should not aim to plan for the people but to enable them to themselves shape an urban environment that is suitable for them. The same I would apply to Smart Cities. A lot of people care for their environment and for their community, if they get an opportunity and are encouraged to do so. Some people e.g. develop technological means for doing things together, for sharing stuff and for sharing information. Why not supporting such initiatives? Key to successful urban development is, in my view, that people are heard and encouraged to explore and freely express their needs and that they are enabled to form communities and to realize their dreams together - in mutual support with the public services. 

Q: How is the research project “Smart Eco-Cities” going? And how will this project influence the development of smart cities?

A: We have just met after the first of three project years. We have already done a lot of preparatory and conceptual work and are now starting in-depth research of some selected cases in China, UK, the Netherlands, France and Germany. The national teams will develop these cases in close cooperation with each other since we aim to learn a lot also from comparisons across the cases. We hope this will provide us and all interested practitioners with a better understanding of what drives such initiatives, what effects can be achieved with what kind of means (considering very diverse contexts), how conflicts are resolved, what barriers have to be overcome etc. Our learning will then hopefully inform the identification of opportunities and pathways for shaping national and collaborative international urban and economic policy responses, potentially engaging the state, the business sector and communities in delivering 'smart eco-city' initiatives that are successful from the perspective of the professionals and of the citizens. 

Q: Finally, can you please introduce the international courses provided by Freiburg University, which are related to “Green City” or sustainable developments?

A: I am personally involved in a “M.Sc. in Environmental Governance”, where I teach e.g. a module called “Urban Sustainability Transitions”. The classes of this 2-years course bring together around 37 students from literally all over the world. The course “M.Sc. in Geography of Global Change” is also taught in English and covers, among other sustainability related issues, also urbanization and urban planning.