As cities continue to attract people and talent, they see the creation and interaction of problems and solutions. The challenges that smart cities face today are the cascading impact of disruptors that manifest globally. Even with the use of technology, Smart Cities are struggling to find ways to respond to global disruptors such as climate change, mass migration and pandemics, which are exposing vulnerabilities across cities and communities. These disruptors are global phenomena that require a coordinated and holistic response from governments around the world. The urgency to embed technology into products, services and infrastructure within smart cities comes from the need to be prepared to respond to these systemic challenges.
Climate change is a global disruptor because it plays a fundamental role in how cities are designed, built and experienced.
Climate change is not a new phenomenon. Planet Earth has experienced multiple natural changes in climate with each ice age cycle.Climate scientist Devyani Kumari of UBC explains that climate change is human-caused and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, found that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) caused by humans have increased by 2.2 percent from 2000 to 2010. This has led to extreme weather catastrophes such as flooding, droughts, and extreme storms. This increase in temperature has had disastrous effects on the oceans causing them to absorb heat, melt ice sheets, raise sea levels, increase rainfall and flooding, and increase ocean acidification to name a few of the major cascading effects.
The impact of climate change is globally evident. It manifests as droughts and flooding, risk to infrastructure and food security, coastal erosion and thawing permafrost. These changes are created by human activity and are posing great risks to the health, security and economic growth of all communities.
Climate change has had a major effect on weather-related issues and our physical environment. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the biggest impact of climate change has been on the world’s water resources which immediately impacts almost all aspects of our everyday lives. In many parts of America, they are experiencing droughts in one region and extreme rainfall in others. Currently, forests across Canada are one of the most susceptible and affected ecosystems to the effects of climate change with trees becoming weaker and dying as a result of droughts and pests. The adverse effects of climate change are polarizing Canadian communities.
Across Canada, droughts and flooding, constant coastal erosion, and thawing permafrost are threatening infrastructure, economy and food security and are polarizing Canadian communities. These changes are a result of ceaseless human activity and pose great risks to the health, security and economic growth of the country. With over 80% of Canadians living in cities, the dense population and location of people, government, infrastructure, and economic resources means that municipalities in Canada are vulnerable to the growing risks of climate change. It is vital that cities and communities take strong action to address climate change. The Government of Canada estimates that inaction could cost the country $21-$43 billion per year by 2050.
Migration and movement between places have been connected with the idea of evolution for the longest time. In fact, migration and immigration have been a driver of population growth in Canada for decades.
As the world becomes more interconnected, the predictions of Buckminster Fuller and Marshall Mcluhan of the global village and spaceship earth are closer to reality. Individual cities and countries are being impacted by global events, particularly mass migration. In 2019, there were 272 million immigrants globally, a number which rose by 51 million since 2010. 70 million, of which 38 million of them children, were forcibly displaced.
For a country with a low birth rate, a high percentage of ageing population, immigration is critical to the economic development of Canada. In 2019, Canada’s population grew by 463,000 people. Almost all of this is attributed to temporary or permanent migration. However, all of this influx is not via the Canadian Permanent Residency program. The 2011 civil war in Syria began a sustained and continued exodus of people, hoping to escape the perilous circumstance in the country. By 2018, Canada had welcomed more than 50,000 Syrian refugees. Many municipalities and communities across the country created services and policies to help support the newcomers, such as hiring more Arabic interpreters and trauma counsellors to help ensure a relatively smooth transition.
While immigration is helping solve a lot of different challenges in the community, if it is not well planned it can cause new ones such as joblessness, poverty, and homelessness. As a country, as a province, and as a city there is an imminent need to ensure that newcomers are successfully integrated into the society.
At the time this project was being concluded, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how connected the world and global economy is, placing the human population in a uniquely vulnerable situation.
In the last one hundred years, modern medicine has made colossal leaps in curing diseases and extending life expectancy. Despite these advantages, the world continues to be threatened by pandemics. The frequency of pandemics around the world is growing and their threats are not apparent until they reach a critical mass. 2020 saw the biggest pandemic unfold in modern history. COVID-19 grounded many economies to a halt, with most economies predicted to lose at least 2.4% of their Gross Domestic. By May 2020, over 360,000 people had succumbed to the deadly virus.
By April 2020, more than two million Canadians lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis. In order to help protect health resources and to stagger the rate of new incidents, many countries, like Canada, enacted social and physical distancing, working from home policies, and limiting business to essential services. The most evident impact of a pandemic is the loss of life. The situation put unprecedented pressure on the healthcare systems as they struggled to treat those that are critically ill and to keep up with the virus. Despite all measures, by May 2020, more than 6,877 Canadians had succumbed to the virus.