Can a car-free city be considered smart?

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Think of the project of a megacity created from scratch, in a straight line of 170 kilometers, which would be free of streets and cars, with the main infrastructure facilities (water, electricity, gas and cabling) allocated underground, as well as transport ( subway and hyperloop).

This would allow the surface to be occupied only by houses, buildings, squares and living spaces, taking the concept of “15-minute city” to the extreme of just 5 minutes, time for the citizen to find everything he needs in his day the day. This is the project of the so-called The Line, recently announced by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. But also think about this aspect:

Can a car-free city be considered smart and inclusive?

As TecMundo’s news about The Line points out, the region in which the “The Line” is intended to be built is occupied by the Huwaitat tribe, which has already requested the UN “help to stop forced evictions and abuses by Saudi authorities”. The alert was made by the English newspaper The Guardian. It is also worth remembering the long history of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, which include restrictions on the rights of women and the LGBTQIA + community.

Another fundamental aspect to be taken into account is the elitist character of a megacity built practically out of nowhere like this, destined for future residents in a less inclusive way, without respecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the region in which it operates. Apart from the fact that being “car free” will not necessarily make you smart, as there are several models of vehicles and other modes that do not pollute the environment and optimize urban mobility, in addition to the subways.

On the other hand, the ambitious nature of the initiative is undeniable. According to the evaluation of smart cities expert Renato de Castro, our partner in iCities, in his column on UOL, this is probably the largest urban project under development in the world. “The construction of the project estimated at half a trillion dollars started in January 2019 and follows the line of other projects in the Middle East region, such as Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and Lusail, the intelligent city of Qatar, built for next year’s football World Cup. ”

Smart City Laguna

In Brazil, we have some interesting (and already advanced) examples of smart cities and smart neighborhoods. One of the pioneers, and perhaps one of the best known, is the Smart City Laguna, in São Gonçalo do Amarante, in the Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza (CE), considered the first Social Smart City in the World. Developed by the Planet Group, formed by English, Italian and Brazilian companies, this city combines innovation, technology, sustainability, modern urban planning and mobility solutions with affordable prices to a larger scale of residents.

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