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Smart district:
a new paradigm
of community life


Interconnection, digitization and energy efficiency are the key words for urban regeneration and the new city paradigm. Community living is enabled by innovation that cuts across economic, environmental, and social issues. 

February 22nd 2024

Urbanization is one of the mega trends of the 21st century. According to World Urbanization Prospects 2018, more than 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. Data from the UN warns that in less than three decades some 36 million new residents will need housing, a place to work and services. All of this will be required within existing urban spaces and how can we prepare for this challenge? In other words: how do we overcome old, if not ancient, city plans and stimulate the rebirth of peri-urban or former agricultural districts as new hubs of social, cultural and economic development?

We need to move away from the monocentric view of community living and open our eyes to new polycentric realities. Smart districts are one answer because they represent the frontier of next-generation urban development. Suburban areas are being looked to design and implement regeneration with real estate development of housing, offices, recreational places, and public services. Not just fascinating and futuristic spaces to be imagined, but realistic urban contexts in which real estate becomes the means and no longer the end to a larger and more prolific ecosystem of residence and relationships within which citizens can take advantage of innovative digital services and contribute to the sharing of related user data through smart solutions. A scalable model that starts from regeneration of neighborhoods and expands as far as the large scale of smart cities.

Energy, from renewable sources, is the enabler of this set of optimized services for residents and users of common spaces in smart districts and is managed by a technology platform–the smart grid–that enables real-time data sharing. Buildings then become active and proactive in distributing and driving energy consumption. We are talking about housing, offices, gyms, cinemas and leisure centers, and spaces for public services such as education and health care. It is an important evolutionary opportunity for community living in the process of ecological transition.

Pasquale Cuzzola, Retail Director – Italian Market at Plenitude, tells us about it:

“The integration of energy systems, digital infrastructure, building features and the ecosystem of human-scale services enables an efficient framework that aims to achieve goals of well-being for those who live in the spaces, economic savings on services, and environmental sustainability. Take the example of energy: the smart grid delivers it at the best place and time to use it thanks to the exchange of real-time data offered by sensor technology. From a learning perspective, it is also a guide that works alongside the consumer to inform them on the conscious use for themselves, the community and the environment of the service they need,” says Pasquale Cuzzola, Retail Director – Italian Market at Plenitude.

Therefore, we can’t talk about smart districts without the existence of smart citizens, that is, conscious citizens who are involved in the sharing of sustainability values in its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. The use of smart technologies, the goal of limiting the consumption of resources, the dissemination of the principles of the sharing economy, and the creation of smart grids and energy communities are examples of areas in which we cannot forgo full citizen participation. Focusing on pure technology is not enough, because these innovations need to be experienced as a paradigm shift in living together. Plenitude accompanies its clients in the discovery of smart districts with the project A Plenitude of Future, an immersive XR experience that blends augmented and virtual reality. Customers can get closer to the world of managed energy through the functions of a smart grid by discovering and learning how to use active and proactive energy services literally with their own hands.

Customer engagement and reciprocity with players, such as Plenitude, helps to accelerate them along the path of awareness of living and interacting with energy in a completely different way from in the past. This is a key step in generating change and feeling part of the effort towards reaching the goals of economic, social and environmental sustainability. 

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