Newsmakers: Herman D'Hooge on what makes smart cities tick

Herman D'Hoge is an innovation strategist at Intel and a professor at University of Oregon.

Herman D'Hoge is an innovation strategist at Intel and a professor at University of Oregon. 

Herman D'Hooge wants cities to get smarter.

Take Portland, for example. D'Hooge sees it as a system of systems — economy, housing, education, public safety, transportation, health care, government services and utilities — that are inexorably linked. Imagine how much more functional the city would be if these systems could talk to each other.

The Intel engineer and strategist is on a teaching sabbatical at the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts where he's working with students to study the city of Portland's planning document, the Portland Plan among other topics.

At the end of the month, D'Hooge will deliver lectures — the title is "Smarter Cities: The Next Big Idea" — in Eugene (on Jan. 29th) and in Portland (on Jan. 31st).

We were curious about the topic — smarter cities are a key to urban sustainability — so we asked D'Hooge to talk a bit about his research.

Sustainable Business Oregon: The term "smart city" gets tossed around a fair amount these days. What does it mean to you and how do you quickly explain your take on smart cities to others?

Herman D'Hooge: I define "smart city" as a city that takes advantage of information and communication technologies — or ICTs — to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies in its urban infrastructure to deliver a safer, healthier, economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable environment where its citizens enjoy a high quality of life. While it’s easy to get stuck talking about technology specifics, in the end the “smart city” concept is really about a vision for society and new ways in which cities can deliver value to those who choose to live in them. Smart cities is also about making citizens smarter by providing them tools and giving them access to the city’s data for increased engagement and broader active participation with the planning and the operations of their city.

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