Editor's Comment

Harness technology for smart cities

Several images from the current blue background

THE call by Minister of Infrastructure Charles Milupi on architects to harness technology in order to enhance efficiency and improve construction outcomes is timely. This is in realisation that this is the surest way of attaining smart cities in the country. Mr Milupi also advised architects to utilise scientific innovations and technological advancements to accommodate the needs of different users of infrastructure, including people living with disabilities. The minister rightly noted that the use of scientific innovation and technology will further reduce time and cost of doing projects and enhance value for money, while attaining quality infrastructure.
He said this when he opened this year’s Zambia Institute of Architects’ (ZIA) international conference on Wednesday. Zambians hope that the conference, which has attracted participants from Botswana and Zimbabwe, and is being held under the theme “Challenges and opportunities of smart cities”, will yield practical results for the construction sector. Smart cities are a panacea to a number of challenges facing cities in Africa and Zambia in particular. The conference in Livingstone offers an opportunity to address the challenges such as poor or inadequate housing and many others. Architects evidently have an important role to play in helping cities address these challenges. Mr Milupi was therefore on point to encourage architects to seriously consider the issue of climate change and ensure that designs assist Government to develop climate-resilient public infrastructure that can withstand the impact of climate change. Cities, which are rapidly growing due to a population boom, are in urgent need of urban renewal and the creativities must address urban problems that include unsanitary city conditions, deficient housing, inadequate transportation, haphazard land use and traffic congestion. Mr Milupi is right to state that challenges must not be allowed to become the norm. His views reflect the collective vision of the new dawn government, which is keen on ensuring that the challenges do not become the norm. Such an important workshop should not merely be a talk show. It offers all stakeholders an opportunity to reflect on the shortcomings encountered and share ideas on how to overcome challenges. Delegates should take advantage of such gatherings to forge strong partnerships with experts in addressing these urban challenges. Architects and built environment professionals should be pillars for Government and should be relied upon for advice and guidance. They should at all times endeavour to provide Government with well-researched solutions that will help resolve inherent and complex challenges. Otherwise, many towns and cities will continue experiencing pressure of land, communicable diseases, housing crises and rising crime. Each time there is an outbreak of diseases such as malaria and cholera, focus is always on the Ministry of Health, which bears the burden.
Yet, the buck should stop at city planners, who include architects and built environment professionals, for not having done their homework. Diseases start from communities, especially poorly planned areas which the architects and built environmental professionals neglected. In the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, as well as the Ministry of Infrastructure, the majority of these professionals have gone to sleep. If these professionals, together with their counterparts in the Ministry of Water and Environment, applied themselves fully, they would be the first line of defence and the health facilities would be decongested.



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