The article highlights the need to rethink and reconceptualise the accepted concepts of smart cities and villages by shifting the attention from technology and technological solutions and moving it towards understanding the significance of communities and sustainability. The conceptual framework combines four essential features—community, village, city and sustainability—and analyses the links and relationships between them. A new community-centred approach to development is suggested in order to emphasise that sustainable living cannot be achieved only through technological solutions. Instead, we suggest that to ensure social sustainability, appropriation, and effectiveness of new solutions in the long term, the process has to start, be adapted and led by people and their needs. In this light, the article analyses three dimensions of smart living—energy, mobility, waste—through the prism of rural–urban linkages and the role of ICT. Core principles and recommendations (calm technology, community size, identification of community leaders, surveillance and control issues, community building) for designers of ICT solutions and developmental projects in smart cities and villages are presented. These principles take into account people and communities and combine findings of engineering and social sciences, especially anthropology, psychology, and sociology.
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