“A Journey to the Heart of the Smart City” .. An illustrated story that presents green and humane cities for all

This storyboard aims to raise awareness through a virtual and educational tour to discover the visible and hidden aspects of the city, understand its challenges, and learn how the concept of a smart city can help us build a green and human city for all.

The newly released picture book “A Journey to the Heart of the Smart City”, designed and written by Issam Shahrour, drawn by artist Sahito Sami, and translated from French by Ammar Al Jarr. This book illustrates with illustrations for children the social and environmental challenges around the world through an educational visit to a smart city, and explains how Smart cities can help meet challenges.

The introduction to the book states that the interest in the city is not new; The Greek philosophers were interested in the subject of the “ideal city”, and the concept of the city, throughout the ages, played an important role in the development of civilizations.

Modern Cities and Growth

At present, interest in the city is taking on new dimensions due to the astonishing concentration of the world’s population in cities, according to the United Nations. Over the next 30 years, the city will receive approximately 2.5 billion new city residents, especially in developing countries. This growth poses two major challenges.

First: How to meet the growing demand of urban residents for basic services; Such as housing, education, health, culture, mobility, water, energy and communications, knowing that these services require huge infrastructure and resources.

Second: How can the city’s impact on global warming be reduced, given that it produces about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The difficult question: How can these challenges be addressed? The stakes are very high, and the time is running out, and the writer answers that a radical change is required in the city.

The concept of the smart city has emerged in the past ten years as a powerful and effective solution to meet the challenges of the city, because it reconciles: collective intelligence, which brings together the actors in the city around the goal of building a green city for all. and digital innovation, which has proven its effectiveness in many areas of our lives.

The first attempts to build smart cities faced significant barriers because building a smart city requires a long-term vision, commitment from city actors, a fundamental change in management, and infrastructure modernization, as well as raising citizens’ awareness about city challenges and their role in building a smart city.

This storyboard aims to contribute to raising this awareness through a virtual and educational tour to discover the visible and hidden aspects of the city, understand its challenges, and learn how the concept of a smart city can help us build a green and human city for all.

Traditional and smart cities

The author – who has published many scientific papers on smart cities – says that the book will be followed by other books to present the major challenges facing the smart city and how to overcome them, especially in the field of housing, water, energy, transportation and waste.

The story revolves around the twins, Laila and Fares, their parents Hanan and Bassam, and Professor Rami the academic, who with the twins explores the smart city on a journey that begins with entering it underground and stopping at the city square to discuss its management and the way to make decisions affecting it.

The heroes of the story “Journey to the Heart of the Smart City” are Professor Rami, the parents, and their two sons, Laila and Fares (Al Jazeera)

In the story, the professor explains several features; Among them is the diversity of buildings and residents with their various social, cultural, economic and ethnic components, and the method of selective sorting of waste into colored containers, which facilitates its treatment in waste treatment, which also helps provide heating for the population.

But the story is not without criticism of modern cities; The city, too, may be a victim of its own success, as it does not always have the resources to cope with its rapid expansion; So we see congestion, pollution and lack of services, says Professor Rami.

On a tour of the underground city, the boys noticed crowded pipes, cables, blocks, rubbish and pollution, and wondered if the residents and the city administration knew about all these things. At the recess, Faris asked: How can the city be managed with all this complexity? Which directs the discussion towards state and municipal institutions and ways of organizing them to ensure the participation of the population.

Professor Rami provides charts that explain the dangers of urban activities to the planet and the problems of global warming, congestion and more, and reviews innovation solutions to help reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

smart city

In the following week, the professor reviews the features of the smart city and describes it as a cooperative that gathers the opinions and experiences of residents, workers in the economic field and the scientific community. It is a comprehensive city that cares for all its citizens, and each smart city can have its own style.

A smart city includes a system that can collect and analyze information about the city and implement measures to care for the population and protect the environment; For example, the system proposes to it the best possible solutions for transportation that combine public transportation, personal vehicles, bicycles, and walking. The system detects water leaks as soon as possible to fix the cause, and divides the city into areas equipped with sensors to know the amount of water entering and consuming in each area.

Pictorial scenes from the story “A Journey to the Heart of the Smart City” (Al Jazeera)

The city is covered with antennas for wireless networks and sensors that measure air quality, noise, lighting, water flows, energy, the level of litter boxes, traffic density and accidents, and converts the measurements into data and sends them to a central information system that collects and processes the data with the participation of residents who can suggest measures to improve the quality of life.

After the tour, the boys return to the professor’s office, where they discuss the results of the tour. Fares says that the smart city uses the latest technologies to collect, analyze and transform data into smart services, and it includes cooperation between the public and private sectors, and the participation of residents in decision-making.

After the tour ended, Laila and Fares said that they learned a lot about the smart city and were convinced that its system will contribute to transforming modern cities into green cities. The professor promises them to organize new visits about smart urban systems and smart services in the green city.

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