As the need for quality and value addition persists, stakeholders in the built environment have charged professionals to imbibe the concept of smart cities that would focus on using technology and data to improve public services, as well as the quality of life for the residents.
The architects and planners, who spoke at the Archibuilt Exposition in Abuja, said the use of artificial intelligence and technology, innovative devices, and a knowledge-based economy would promote affordable housing.
Speaking at the Archibuilt forum, the President of, the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Enyi Ben-Eboh, explained that modern cities ensure cooperative effort between citizens and businesses, as well as the use of information technology to improve living and working conditions.
Ben-Eboh said: “This year’s event will feature a number of innovations. We have introduced an innovation hub to enable stakeholders to get a feel of new developments in the industry, especially in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revolution.”
He said the world is experiencing urbanization in its social, cultural, and economic spheres, leading to increased population and spatial expansion of cities due to activities that take place in the ecosystem.
Also, a town planner, Olufemi Oloruntola, in his paper “Smart Cities and Digital Transformation,” stated that such cities are planned, designed, and developed in relation to how the inhabitants of such cities interact with the built environment.
He argued, cities evolved from farmstead/hamlet to village, then to a small town, onto a town, and then a city, adding that largely independent cities, hitherto operated as self-contained units are increasingly becoming interconnected and fused to form megacities.
Oloruntola said population influx, the development of shared infrastructure, and the emergence of new technologies have exacerbated the already significant pressure on infrastructure in urban centers.
“The world is now a global village where all local societies are increasingly interconnected. Contemporary living has opened up new vistas for trans-national and trans-continental exchanges and interactions,” he emphasized.
In his submission, the President, of the Sierra Leone Institute of Architects, Manilius Garber, said the urban economy needs to improve in terms of transportation, as ICT has led to shorter distances in geographic locations.
Garber said: “To solve the associated complex and systemic challenges, cities must evolve smart competencies to enable them to compete favorably at all levels.”
He, therefore, maintained that smart city projects need to be a long-term vision, defined around citizens’ needs, managed through smart governance, based on open and scalable systems, and promote a culture of innovation, openness, and transparency.
Contributing, NIA First Vice President, Mobolaji Adeniyi, said this year’s forum is focused on youth development, which will involve showcasing designs by student start-ups, young architects, and public interactions through building maintenance clinics.