Smart cities is a terrible name for anything really. Connected cities is no better.
Sounds good in the isolation of a meeting room written on a stone cold ppt slide - SMART CITIES!
These bikes in Manchester are smart and connected in the way the ppt means, but they don’t look very smart or feel very connected.
Three thoughts, three zoom levels.
I love this idea as an idea. (In that room, watching the ppt.) I like cycling around cities. I like the way the locations can be flexible. I’m in favour of digitally enabled infrastructure, just like this.
There’s a failure of service design here. Putting aside the fact that the wind or some hooligans on the way home from hooliganing have probably pushed them over and these things happen, there have been real issues with these bikes in Manchester. As this article in the Guardian reports - Manchester’s bike-share scheme isn't working – because people don't know how to share and elsewhere.
It doesn’t appear to work as well as Boris Bikes. What do we sacrifice for the perceived flexibility? Does this new private (but very public) transport only work with the well established model of fixed locations? Are we too wedded to that? How does Zip Car cope? (We discussed this a bit with Uber and Man Utd last month.)
Feels like work in progress. maybe not enough user research, maybe not enough iteration based on real data. Maybe this only works with state intervention.
If this follows the Valley model in full, presumably the private model will win. There will be five or six of these bike companies, littered all over the place and eventually one wins. Maybe then it will get tidier, smarter. People will get used to it and certain Schelling points will emerge. But then one private company dominates and we're starting to see the limitations of that.
Or maybe Burning Man really is the future of everything.
Back to the naming. Cities have always been smart. Resilient, entrepreneurial, progressive, always adapting. The smartest of human settlements. That never needed a seperate brand.