Simanaitis Says

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YESTERDAY AN SAE INTERNATIONAL Update discussed smart city aspects of pedestrian-to-vehicle communication and evolving standards for micromobility. Today in Part 2 another Update author explores the basic tenents of smart cities. 

Smart City: In Need of Definition. David Witkowski works “at the intersection between local government and the telecommunications industry.” He writes of “two inescapable and seemingly contradictory conclusions—the first being that smart cities will never happen, and the second being that we should build smart cities anyway.” 

This and the following image from SAE Update, November 3, 2022.

Migration and Expectation. “The concept of smart cities,” Witkowski says, “arises from several factors, but the two most important are human migration trends and social expectations.” He cites a U.N. prediction that by 2050 87 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. 

Digital Natives. Social expectations are changing as well: “In 2022,” Witkowski notes, “the oldest Millennials reached middle age, the oldest Centennials (sometimes called Generation Z) have graduated from college and are building their wealth and careers.” 

These “digital native generations,” Witkowski observes, “are displacing pre-Internet generations in economic and political power.” Thus “younger residents wanted their cities to be smart, or at least operate in smarter and more efficient ways.” 

How to Accomplish? Witkowski observes, “Hundreds if not thousands of definitions cropped up all over the world, but most smart city definitions read like political campaign mailers, with lots of lofty words but very few if any specifics.”

Smart vs. Dumb. Says Witkowski, “There’s also an inherent problem with the term ‘smart city’ because smart is a relative term—for something to be smart, something else must be dumb, or at least less smart.”

Not a Goal, but a Journey. “In my mind,” Witkowski says, “the problem is that a smart city is seen as a goal, when in reality it is a journey. A city can never become smart, but it can and should do all manner of smart things.”

Witkowski continues, “President (and former Brigadier General) Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, ‘plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” and this applies equally well to military operations and local governments. It is the act of deciding to use more technology and innovation that makes cities smart, the end result doesn’t matter.”

Thoughts such as these are a far cry indeed from simply stamping the tops of oil cans. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 


  1. David Thomas
    November 19, 2022

    Eisenhower was a five star “general of the Army” not a one star Brigadier general.

    • simanaitissays
      November 19, 2022

      Thanks for this correction, David. I wonder if author Witkowski confused Ike’s rank with that of his son John.

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