Residents of India, Australia, China and UAE assess the liveability of their increasingly smart cities
There are two schools of thought encompassing how we view the future of 21st-century cities. One is that cities are smart and use big data to enhance the lives of residents. The other prioritises nature and community and uses data that proves public and green spaces improve emotional wellbeing. But at what point do, or can, these different ideas converge? Vision talks to residents of four different cities across the world.
Amit Khare, Gurgaon, India
I lived in Mumbai for a decade and have only just recently moved to Gurgaon. While Mumbai is brisk, bursting with energy and maddeningly crowded, its northern counterpart is relaxed, laid-back and extremely spacious. But Mumbai is extremely humble. The city also stays up all night and that’s where it steals Gurgaon’s thunder. If only I could merge the heart and soul of Mumbai and space and comfort of Gurgaon, that would be my ideal city.
Anita Monticone, Melbourne, Australia
From world-class sporting events to moonlit cinemas and theatre, there’s no experience you can’t find here. Accessible by the myriad trams connecting the city, Melbourne is filled with hip cafes, hidden lanes and rooftop bars just waiting to be discovered, not to mention enough shops to satisfy even the most enthusiastic punter. Stepping outside the CBD, visitors can spend their time exploring trendy suburbs such as Brunswick and St Kilda, get a dose of nature at the Royal Botanic Gardens or head out to nearby national parks.
Ziyan Wang, Chongqing, China
What makes Chongqing liveable is that it’s a city with flavour. This is a place where one has access to inexpensive and delicious cuisines: the classic hotpot dinner on the South Mountain overlooking the city lights or fresh and pungent spicy boiled fish (shui zhu yu) on pontoons at the riverside. The city has also really good and varied public transport, like the mighty, 112-metre-long Crown Escalator that connects Lianglukou Metro station to the railway station, or the ropeway spanning the Yangtze River. Mostly, Chongqing has a relaxed and laid-back vibe, and it’s very easy to feel content here.
Fabio Tonti, Dubai, UAE
I love it when I can easily go around the city using affordable and efficient public transportation (metro, taxi, tram, etc), instead of using a car. It’s good to have public parks, beaches and green spaces where you can relax and do activities in the open. I often head to Palm Jumeirah for an open-air workout in the morning. But I also think easy access to ‘city getaways’ is fundamental for city living. Sometimes I head out to the desert in Al Qudra, where you can relax out of the city environment and re-establish a connection with nature.