By Debbie Fisher, Alcatel-Lucent.
As Marshall McLuhan popularized in his writings from the 1960’s, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) and Understanding Media (1964), the world has been transformed by ICT – with instantaneous, ubiquitous access to information. Change also spilled into social spheres as humans who moved from individualists to a collective identity, formed a new social organization which was called the Global Village.
Yet, what I find most interesting as I reflect on this notion and completion of my study of smart cities and the citizens who live there is the term McLuhan started to use later — the term Global Theater. What’s the difference between people who are part of Global Village vs. a Global Theater? It’s simple. They change from consumer to producer, from acquisition to involvement.
This is the key I’ve highlighted in my global study of 4 smart cities: Chattanooga TN in the USA, Zurich, Switzerland, King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, and Wuxi, China. Cities around the globe are grappling with social, economic, and environmental challenges. Also, city leaders, large and small enterprises, and private public partnerships are beginning to address these challenges in a way that respects local cultures and traditions. But what we heard was that one voice was typically missing: the voice of the citizen.