Smart Cities – People and The COVID-19 Pandemic

Smart City – People and COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Lê Việt Hưng,, 2021

Over the past century, the earth has undergone a period of rapid and significant structural transformation. The population shift to urban areas is increasing. In recent years, the United Nations Organization has named the 21st century the “urban century”. However, this shift has created many new and great challenges for the urban environment. These can be threats from stagnation or crisis or from the disadvantages of population density, urban construction leading to social disturbance and causing serious problems. in growth management, response and control of natural disasters and epidemics.

Stemming from the end of 2019, the Covid-19 disaster has become a global challenge centered on urban areas, it has also suddenly created a new awareness of possible health risks in urban areas. urban areas, especially in densely populated areas and poor neighborhoods. Smart city strategies of many cities around the world have been implemented, in which the use of ICT technology to control, forecast and provide internal and external online communication channels has contributed to It is important to prevent the spread of the disease and help the coordination between stakeholders in the urban system to operate smoothly. In general, smart cities have demonstrated their dynamism and ability to respond and adapt better to traditional cities.

Through reference and translation of a number of relevant documents, this article presents a number of related issues between smart cities – people and the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Urban Development In The New Era

Urbanization is a diverse trend worldwide. In the Northern Hemisphere, the process of urbanization is completely different than in the Southern Hemisphere, which is facing more problems of inequality, poverty, health and unemployment. Quality of life has a multidimensional, multi-level scale and is a complex issue with numerous features (objective and subjective) in a diverse urban system.

Smart, sustainable urban transformation can help provide the environment – space for a high quality of life, capable of responding to new threats in the future. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a great impact on local and national urban systems, and at the same time it is a test and challenge for many different socio-economic fields, thereby placing new requirements on urban governance capacity. The pandemic has dramatically changed views on urban life such as human physical activity, social distancing, working from home, health systems and complex policy issues, etc. This raises a core question: will the current Covid-19 pandemic create a historic breakthrough in a centuries-old trend of urbanization? How can urban dynamics at all levels and scales be adjusted, built and simultaneously managed, associated with smart transitions, to cope – respond intelligently? with current and future threats? How are people’s awareness, attitudes and behaviors in these periods?

Smart Cities During the Covid-19 Pandemic

If the concept of cities is “people’s houses”, the house must always be maintained and operated better, quickly adapting to all circumstances. Over the past decade, the term smart city has gained widespread popularity among urban economists, planners and policymakers. For many years, especially the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, smart cities have called for and mobilized quite well all available knowledge and digital technology resources to achieve the expected creation. socio-economic growth. The general socio-economic benefits from smart city policies and technologies include:

  • Environmental and health transformation from economic, social, cultural, agricultural and technological perspectives: changes in the agro-food supply chain, the rise of forms of agricultural farming New urban areas, the emergence of a bio-based economy, the design of new nutritional strategies, etc. will fundamentally change the traditional urban-rural landscape.
  • Transforming resources and energy: new material technology, clean green city without waste, using ICT technology to manage smart public spaces (smart mobility, street light management according to demand) , intelligent traffic light system…), creating new forms of urban land use planning, facilities management, etc.
  • Transformation of space and demographics – society, new forms of care: contribute to limiting and solving urban problems such as: disease spread – overload of the health care system; ethnic and religious tensions; political instability; the increase in singleness, the aging process of the population…
  • Cultural and community transformation: to meet epidemic prevention in the new era and the need for cultural identity, reduce threats of discrimination in the community, control the rise of urban “crime zones”…

However, besides the positive factors of smart cities that have been promoted in many cities, other expectations of smart cities have not brought the desired effect. The city of Chicago, known as a smart city, has used anonymized cell phone data during the pandemic to analyze travel patterns and track whether residents are following social distancing guidelines. Whether it is superior in urban safety or inequality in terms of ethnicity, religion, income, etc., are still open issues. . Athens is another smart city, but can the problems of congestion and air pollution be solved? How does a city like Beijing, which can control the movement of people, be paralyzed when it comes to smog and smoke in the summer? Capacity of urban health systems during the Covid 19 pandemic?… Clearly, there is a significant gap between expectations and actual performance. Especially when assessing these issues in terms of digital capabilities such as:

  • Urban data analytics: urban data warehouse or platform, social media monitoring, open data warehouse, big data;
  • Advanced information management techniques: visualization techniques, satellite systems, sensors, smart urban dashboards, 3D event technology, morphology analysis;
  • Public space management: interactive neighborhood plans, GIS technology, BIM application, urban potential analysis, design of environmentally safe and healthy zones, multi-action MCA model core..;
  • Online safety procedures: camera surveillance in public spaces, advanced data management as a crime prevention tool, smart balance between safety measures and privacy protection, management urban disaster management.
  • Social technology applications: artificial intelligence, urban imaging, city imaging, urban robotics in the field of care, logistics and blockchain applications.
  • New forms of e-democracy: innovative citizen participation, electronic procurement processes, early warning systems, dashboards for maintenance operations.

The actual name, the success story of smart cities is quite limited. Will smart city technology help cities and people better cope during the pandemic? That is something that causes a lot of controversy, especially in an era with many variations of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Although the great potential of “home office – remote work – online meeting” has been proven, it still encounters barriers stemming from inherent human thinking and habits. A good example of this problem, the smart application Bluezone (PC-Covid) provides many features so that device owners can learn and identify their exposure to people infected with the virus. corona, but its actual use and positive impact in the fight against Covid-19 are still in doubt.

Image of PC-COVID App

Besides, there are many ways to design and use e-Vaccine passports so that users can travel freely with acceptable risks. However, there are still barriers in terms of awareness, administration, technology, human rights… and so far, it has not been proven whether smart digital cities have a lower infection rate of the virus “standard” cities or not.

People-Centered Smart Cities Enhance Disaster Response and Recovery

Although there is great heterogeneity between the needs of people in any complex urban structure, this complex multi-agent system also contains diversity in the political, economic and social spheres. Smart cities with smart residents are generally entities living together in a complex, dynamic, and interactive space, which provides a continuum of promises, opportunities, solutions, and challenges. alternatives and unlimited socioeconomic options for the population. Putting the “people-centered” factor on the top, smart cities have better opportunities to take advantage of – access to more resources to accomplish their goals. The implementation of smart city initiatives with the participation of “end users” and “co-producers”, focusing on specific needs and values, making digital technology not the goal. goal, but becomes a driving factor to provide intelligent information analysis and decision support to maximize the goal of building a happy and sustainable city.

Serving the needs of citizens, responding flexibly to disasters – natural disasters, it is necessary to build a strong mechanism and bridge between policies, strategies, participation and empowerment of stakeholders. stakeholders to promote sustainable development activities. Bringing people and different social groups into the smart city ecosystem can help operate the policy support system from the bottom up, creating consensus for successful implementation of initiatives. smart city. The core view of a smart city ecosystem powered by ICT are the key actors in the smart society transformation towards a resilient, resilient society and economy as well as with all current and future disaster situations.

With the flexible cross-sectoral orientation of the local governance system combined with the participation and commitment of the people, it will form a unified element, a tool to monitor the readiness of the people, quickly identify and identify risks as well as resilience in the process of urban governance.


In human history, there have been many disasters such as natural disasters, wars or epidemics (similar to Covid-19), but cities have demonstrated the ability to self-heal, adapt and evolve. in all circumstances. Smart Cities – Smart Governance – “Citizen-centric” smart technology that empowers citizens and stakeholders will create a set of flexible adaptations – serving intelligently respond to the current Covid-19 pandemic and other similar disasters in the future.

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