Building Smart Cities Analytics, ICT and Design Thinking By Carol L. Stimmel.
Foreword: Over twenty five years ago, when I first met and hired Carol Stimmel to work with me at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, I knew she had a gift for applying humanistic thinking to scientific problems and seeing the world in a different way. This book on designing smart cities proves that this remains true even today. Carol effectively examines the concepts of design thinking to describe a variety of human-centered processes to solve complex problems in the development of our cities as the fastest growing centers of population worldwide.
Her work highlights the fact that urban population is growing at a rapid pace and forcing our city centers to absorb the majority of this popu lation growth. Therefore, we are at a critical juncture where we need to think about ways to create urban environments that are “productive, socially connected and economically successful.” This book is appro priate for anyone who is seeking a holistic framework for applying principled thinking to some of the world’s more complicated smarter cities challenges. The way Carol lays out the framework for how to think about and address these issues is compelling and fully supported by the facts that she references throughout the book.
In 2013, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Smarter Cities Challenge for the city of Cape Town South Africa with the Executive Mayor Alderman Patricia de Lille, as part of IBM’s Executive Service Corp. The challenge was “How can the City of Cape Town effectively use and manage its social assets to optimize service delivery?” In the course of this work, I witnessed first hand how applying the design principles that Carol clearly outlines throughout the book helps address some of our most challenging smarter cities challenges. Cape Town itself is a very complex city, being home to citizens from all walks of life who are multicultural, multilingual, geographically dispersed, and socioeconomically diverse. I found that adopting the design thinking method that Carol describes for solving such complex city problems truly tested this often misunderstood method and helped us deliver creative solutions to the smarter city challenges with which we were grappling.
As a Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technology Office for IBM, I am a strong believer in using technology to help us solve some of our most challenging problems; but, much like Carol presents throughout this book, I also strongly believe that we need to consider the human element, and not technology alone, in order to be successful. Throughout my over twenty-five year professional IT career, I have been very successful in relying heavily on design thinking principles, including show don’t tell, focus on human values, embrace experimentation, craft clarity, be mindful of process, and a tendency to bias towards action and radical collaboration. Most recently I have had the distinct pleasure of leveraging the concepts inherent in the discipline of human-plus-machine by being among the first to bring cognitive computing technologies and innovation to Africa in my current role as the Watson Africa Territory Leader, where my team and I work to prove that technology carefully and thoughtfully applied will continue to bring enduring and profound benefits to humanity.
Carol has set out to carry forward many of the lessons in early smart cities efforts. She lays out her thinking in a rigorous and methodical manner that serves to teach the reader design-thinking principles for solving challenging complex smarter cities problems. She also provides an innovative framework within which to consider appropriate solutions. But, perhaps the most compelling thing about this book is the demonstration of the fact that the vision for human-centric smart cities is entirely achievable and wholesomely probable – this is not some idyllic future, this is a reality that we are quickly coming to face and for which we have tools to address.
– Sherry Comes
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