By Lucie Robson
I was interested to learn that Paphos is not only going to be seriously spruced up ahead of taking on the European Culture Capital next year, but is also going to become the first Smart City in Cyprus.
What exactly is a Smart City? In a nutshell, one that employs technology in order to communicate information about matters that concerns residents and visitors swiftly – usually via an app.
Or, as Wikipedia puts it: “an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services.
“The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs.”
This has been toyed with before in Paphos with the creation of a very expensive EU-funded website that never seemed to get beyond the first base. After a few triumphant announcements about it, as though simply being involved in an EU project is enough, regardless of the outcome, nothing else happened. Until now.
To coincide with its European Culture Capital title next year, the local version of the Smart City will include features that make sense such as systems for electronic announcements, electronic schedules for buses, an improved network of public lighting and a high-speed WiFi network that will cover central Paphos and tourist areas.
Other features that don’t make much sense are the implementation of a network of electronic bicycles and …a network where electronic cars can be charged.
Bicycles have never taken off in Paphos and I can certainly remember (again through the use of EU money) a lane being laid in parts of the centre of the town then removed because it wasn’t used sufficiently and interfered with traffic.
If the local authorities are anticipating locals and tourists to use an electronic bike network, what needs to follow is education for drivers about how to accommodate them.
As for a network for the battery charging of electronic cars – I am sincerely intrigued as I don’t know a single person who owns an electronic vehicle.
I know many people who would just appreciate seeing the news the municipality posts in its website and Facebook page in their particular language. The prioritising of much-used tongues could easily be ascertained by reference to the last census.
Technology and ecological awareness are both sexy, but let’s not overlook the basics for people who have lived here for years.