Developing smart cities for low-income communities

Discover how one company successfully launched smart neighbourhoods in low-income communities in Brazil, India and Italy, and is now working on a slum upgrading initiative in Kenya.

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Alan Marcus is Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Planet Smart City, a company that designs and builds smart, affordable housing. He joined the business after ten years working as head of technology, media and digital at the World Economic Forum (WEF). There he was involved in working towards a balance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact and profitability, alongside developing digital policies that contribute to the greater good.

“It gave me the notion that I wanted to now go back into industry [he began his career at Cisco] and see if I can find a business willing to create a balance of impact and profitability,” he says. “I wanted to see how we can take advantage of digital and information as a social good; as something shared with the community rather than used to turn that community into a customer.”

Affordable smart housing

Marcus found that place in the form of Planet Smart City, a business which shows that smart cities aren’t just for the most affluent. The organisation has already launched several smart, yet affordable neighbourhoods in low-income communities in Brazil, Italy and India through the use of smart technology, digitalisation, resilient infrastructure and intelligent urban planning.

“In general people consider smart cities as upper/middle class affluent neighbourhoods, with really cool gadgets and the latest technologies. But when we say smart, yes, that might include gadgets, but what we’re really focused on is what makes the most sense for the community that we’re serving.”

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