CITY-AS-A-SERVICE: A DESIGN FRAMEWORK FOR SMART CITIES
In science fiction literature of the 1950s and 1960s, the reader is frequently presented to a concept of a futuristic city enclosed by an all-encompassing “dome” that shelters its dwellers from a hostile environment, while providing them the comfort and infrastructure needed to develop a safe and productive community. These domes are no longer fiction: they already exist, invisible, enabled by the wireless Internet infrastructure that surrounds and supports most of the contemporary urban activities.
Called “Smart City” by commercial enterprises, media and marketing departments, the fully connected metropolis risks being anything but. It is undeniable that the digitization of metropolitan infrastructures is both desirable and needed, but the way it may be performed demands consideration.
Beyond data and analytics, smart city information and communications technologies approaches need to tap into the organic flows that make up a living city. This research believes it is the most effective way to turn cities into serviceable interfaces for urban development, with people at the heart of the process. The Digital revolution is less about the physical matter of cities and more about how the infrastructure and its inhabitants will communicate with each other.
Such transformation is, of course, much easier said than done. Both cities and their populations are immense and hugely complex networks, with a plethora of specific demands. Digitization is to be understood as an evolutive process, never to be considered fully accomplished. The framework proposed in this research aims to understand how to leverage the three main stakeholders balancing city life: People, Government and Business ventures.
The framework proposed in this research is devised to provide urban operating systems with interface properties that enable the general public with ubiquitous and easy access to city data in a human-readable way, through interactive graphic interfaces. To be efficient and truly usable, these interfaces should require minimal or no technical expertise to use, therefore stimulating its manipulation and the development of new, creative proposals in a rich environment that resembles a social network or game. The idea is to access the collective intelligence which may emerge of a multitude of small interactions in a truly democratic environment. It already exists; it just needs to become palpable.
 See KELLY (2010, loc. 624) for more about the infinite goals of technology.