A Scholarly Backcasting Approach to a Novel Model for Smart Sustainable Cities of the Future: Strategic Problem Orientation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonCity, Territory and Architecture. 2019, 6 (3) 10.1186/s40410-019-0102-3
Sustainable cities have, since the early 1990s, been the leading global paradigm of urban planning and development thanks to the different models of sustainable urban form proposed as new frameworks for redesigning and restructuring urban places to achieve sustainability. Indeed, huge advances in some areas of sustainability knowledge and a multitude of exemplary practical initiatives have been realized, thereby raising the profile of sustainable cities worldwide. The change is still inspiring and the challenge continues to induce scholars and practitioners to enhance existing, and propose new, models. Especially, sustainable urban forms have been problematic, whether in theory or practice, so is yet knowing to what extent progress has been made towards sustainable cities. They are associated with a number of problems, issues, and challenges and thus much more needs to be done considering the very fragmented, conflicting picture that arises of change on the ground in the face of the expanding urbanization. This involves the question of how they should be monitored, understood, analyzed, planned, and even integrated so as to improve, advance, and maintain their contribution to sustainability. This brings us to the issue of sustainable cities and smart cities being extremely fragmented as landscapes and weakly connected as approaches, despite the proven role and untapped potential of advanced ICT, especially big data technology, for advancing sustainability under what is labeled ‘smart sustainable cities.’ Essentially, there are multiple visions of, and pathways to achieving, such cities, which depends on how they can be conceptualized. This paper details the two parts of strategic problem orientation by answering the guiding questions for Steps 1 and 2 of the futures study being conducted. This study aims to analyze, investigate, and develop a novel model for smart sustainable cities of the future using backcasting as a scholarly approach. It involves a series of papers of which this paper is the first one. We argue that a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted processes of change or the interplay between social, technological, and scientific solutions is required to achieve more sustainable cities. Visionary images of a long-term future can stimulate an accelerated movement towards achieving the long-term goals of sustainability. The proposed model is believed to be the first of its kind and thus has not been, to the best of one’s knowledge, produced, nor is it being currently investigated, elsewhere.