Spatial intelligence of cities

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Spatial intelligence of cities is the informational and cognitive processes, such as information collection and processing, real-time alert, forecasting, learning, collective intelligence, and cooperative distributed problem solving, which characterize "intelligent" or "smart" cities. The concept allows unifying those of intelligent city and smart city under a common field of study focusing on their founding processes. Emphasis on the "spatial" dimension denotes that space and agglomeration are preconditions of this form of intelligence. The concept refers also to the combined deployment and use of information and communication technologies (ICT), institutional settings for knowledge and innovation, and physical infrastructure of cities to increase the problem-solving capability of a community.


The spatial intelligence of cities is based on communication, collaboration, and computer-assisted problem solving within urban environments. However, different perspectives can be found in the literature about the origins and drivers of spatial intelligence.

  • The intelligence of cities "resides in the increasingly effective combination of digital telecommunication networks (the nerves), ubiquitously embedded intelligence (the brains), sensors and tags (the sensory organs), and software (the knowledge and cognitive competence)" (Mitchel 2007). [1]
  • City intelligence comes from partnerships and social capital in organising the development of technologies, skills, and learning, and engaging citizens to become involved in creative communities and urban renewal project (Deakin and Allwinkle 2007). [2]
  • The spatial intelligence of cities emerges from the agglomeration and integration of three forms of intelligence: (1) the inventiveness, creativity and intellectual capital of the city’s population, (2) the collective intelligence of the city's institutions and social capital for innovation, and (3) the artificial intelligence of public and city wide smart infrastructure, virtual environments, and intelligent agents (Komninos 2008). [3]

Using these spatially combined capacities and infrastructure cities can respond effectively to changing socio-economic conditions, address challenges, plan their future, and sustain prosperity and well being of citizens.

Platforms and technologies[edit]

Collective intelligence is the major driver of spatial intelligence of cities. Partnerships, collaboration platforms and social networks nurture the development of technologies, skills, and learning, engaging citizens to become involved in creative community participation.

Social media have offered the technology layer for organizing collective intelligence, with crowdsourcing platforms, mush-ups, web-collaboration, and other means of participatory problem-solving. Media technologies and collaborative platforms remain the main tools enabling spatial intelligence.

However, the recent turn towards smart cities highlights another route of spatial intelligence. The rise of new Internet technologies promoting cloud-based services, the Internet of Things (IoT), real-world user interfaces, use of smart phones and smart meters, networks of sensors and RFIDs, and more accurate communication based on the semantic web, open new ways to collective action and collaborative problem solving. The city of Santander, for instance, in northern Spain with 20.000 sensors connecting buildings, infrastructure, transport, networks and utilities, offers a physical space for experimentation and validation of the IoT functions, such as interaction and management protocols, device technologies, and support services such as discovery, identity management and security (Schaffers et al. 2011) [4]

Smart cities with the help of instrumentation and interconnection of mobile devices and sensors, which collect and analyse real-world data, improve the ability to forecast and manage urban flows and push city intelligence forward. (Chen-Ritzo, Harrison, Paraszczak, and Parr 2009) [5]

Flagship cases[edit]

Major strategies and achievements related to the spatial intelligence of cities are listed in the Intelligent Community Forum awards from 1999 to 2010, in the cities of Suwon (South Korea), Stockholm (Sweden), Gangnam District of Seoul (South Korea), Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), Taipei (Taiwan), Mitaka (Japan), Glasgow (Scotland, UK), Calgary (Alberta, Canada), Seoul (South Korea), New York (USA), LaGrange (Georgia, USA), and Singapore, which were recognized for their efforts in developing broadband networks and e-services sustaining innovation ecosystems, growth, and inclusion. [6]


  1. ^ Mitchell, W., (2007), 'Intelligent cities' e-Journal on the Knowledge Society, [1].
  2. ^ Deakin, M. and Allwinkle, S., (2007), 'Urban regeneration and sustainable communities: the role networks, innovation and creativity in building successful partnerships', Journal of Urban Technology, 14(1), 77-91.
  3. ^ Komninos N., (2008), Intelligent Cities and Globalisation of Innovation Networks, London and New York, Routledge.
  4. ^ Schaffers, H., Komninos, N., Pallot, M., Trousse, B., and Nilsson M., (2011) Smart Cities and the Future Internet: Towards Cooperation Frameworks for Open Innovation, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 6656, The Future Internet, pp. 431-446 [2]
  5. ^ Chen-Ritzo, C.H, Harrison, C., Paraszczak, J., and Parr, F,. (2009), 'Instrumenting the Planet', IBM Journal of Research and Development, 53 (3), 338-353.
  6. ^ The Intelligent Communities of the Year 1999-2010 [3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]