Smart city

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Some definitions of a Smart City place emphasis on citizen engagement, such as at this hackathon in New York in 2013[1]

A smart city (also smarter city) uses digital technologies to enhance performance and well being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. Key 'smart' sectors include transport, energy, health care, water and waste. A smart city should be able to respond faster to city and global challenges than one with a simple 'transactional' relationship with its citizens.[2] Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include ‘cyberville, ‘digital city’’, ‘electronic communities’, ‘flexicity’, ‘information city’, 'intelligent city', ‘knowledge-based city, 'MESH city', ‘telecity, ‘teletopia’’, 'Ubiquitous city', ‘wired city’.

Interest in smart cities is motivated by major challenges, including climate change, economic restructuring, the move to online retail and entertainment, ageing populations, and pressures on public finances.[3] The European Union (EU) has devoted constant efforts to devising a strategy for achieving 'smart' urban growth for its metropolitan city-regions.[4][5] Arup estimates that the global market for smart urban services will be $400 billion per annum by 2020.[6]


The term smart city is still[when?] quite a fuzzy concept and is used in ways that are not always consistent. Here are a number of definitions:

  • Giffinger et al. 2007: "Regional competitiveness, transport and Information and Communication Technologies economics, natural resources, human and social capital, quality of life, and participation of citizens in the governance of cities."[7]
  • Smart Cities Council[when?]: "A smart city is one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions."[8][full citation needed]
  • Caragliu and Nijkamp 2009: "A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement."[9]
  • Frost & Sullivan 2014: "We identified eight key aspects that define a Smart City: smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen."[10]
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Smart Cities: "A smart city brings together technology, government and society to enable the following characteristics: smart cities, a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, smart living, smart governance."[11][when?]
  • Business Dictionary: "A developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government. Excelling in these key areas can be done so through strong human capital, social capital, and/or ICT infrastructure."[12][when?]
  • Indian Government 2014 : "Smart City offers sustainability in terms of economic activities and employment opportunities to a wide section of its residents, regardless of their level of education, skills or income levels."[13]
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,UK 2013: "The concept is not static, there is no absolute definition of a smart city, no end point, but rather a process, or series of steps, by which cities become more 'liveable' and resilient and, hence, able to respond quicker to new challenges."[citation needed]
  • Dr S.Himesh: A Smart City is an intrinsically sustainable city which recognizes the physical limits to its growth without compromising the quality of life of the present and future generations. A smart city must also be modular and dynamic in nature and has the ability to adopt and evolve with time without compromising the ecological integrity and quality of life of its inhabitants. Smart city must recognize its limits to economic and employment opportunities within the limits of assured natural resources, supportive and assimilative capacity of the region. A smart city can never be built with an open ended growth.


It has been suggested that a smart city (also community, Business cluster, urban agglomeration or region) use information technologies to: 1) Make more efficient use of physical infrastructure (roads, built environment and other physical assets) to support a strong and healthy economic, social, cultural development.[14] 2) Engage effectively with local people in local governance and decision by use of open innovation processes and e-participation[15] with emphasis placed on citizen participation and co-design.[16][17] 3) Learn, adapt and innovate and thereby respond more effectively and promptly to changing circumstances.[18]

They evolve towards a strong integration of all dimensions of human intelligence, collective intelligence, and also artificial intelligence within the city.[19][20] 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)".[21] Some major fields of intelligent city activation are:

Innovation economy Urban infrastructure Governance
Innovation in industries, clusters, districts of a city Transport Administration services to the citizen
Knowledge workforce: Education and employment Energy / Utilities Participatory and direct democracy
Creation of knowledge-intensive companies Protection of the environment / Safety Services to the citizen: Quality of life

Platforms and technologies[edit]

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.

Online collaborative sensor data management platforms are on-line database services that allow sensor owners to register and connect their devices to feed data into an on-line database for storage and allow developers to connect to the database and build their own applications based on that data.[22][23]

The city of Santander in northern Spain has 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[24]


University research labs have developed prototypes and solutions for intelligent cities. MIT Smart Cities Lab [25] focuses upon intelligent, sustainable buildings, mobility systems (GreenWheel Electric Bicycle, Mobility-on-Demand, Citycar, Wheel Robots); the IntelCities [26] research consortium developed solutions for electronic government, planning systems and citizen participation; URENIO has developed a series of intelligent city platforms for the innovation economy [27] focusing on strategic intelligence, technology transfer, collaborative innovation, and incubation, while is offering, through its portal, a global watch on intelligent cities research and planning;[28] the Smart Cities Academic Network [29] is working on e-governance and e-services in the North Sea region.


Large IT and telecommunication companies such as Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft have developed new solutions and initiatives for intelligent cities as well. Cisco, launched the Global Intelligent Urbanization initiative [30] to help cities around the world using the network as the fourth utility for integrated city management, better quality of life for citizens, and economic development. IBM announced its SmarterCities [31] to stimulate economic growth and quality of life in cities and metropolitan areas with the activation of new approaches of thinking and acting in the urban ecosystem.

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 City (USA), LaGrange, Georgia (USA), Tehran (Iran) and Singapore, which were recognized for their efforts in developing broadband networks and e-services sustaining innovation ecosystems, growth, and inclusion.[32]


The main arguments against the superficial use of this concept in the policy arena are:[14]

  • A bias in strategic interest may lead to ignoring alternative avenues of promising urban development.[33]
  • The focus of the concept of smart city may lead to an underestimation of the possible negative effects of the development of the new technological and networked infrastructures needed for a city to be smart.[34]

As a globalized business model is based on capital mobility, following a business-oriented model may result in a losing long term strategy: "The 'spatial fix' inevitably means that mobile capital can often 'write its own deals' to come to town, only to move on when it receives a better deal elsewhere. This is no less true for the smart city than it was for the industrial, [or] manufacturing city."[14]

See also[edit]

Smart city cities[edit]


  1. ^ "Cities hack their way to livability gains". Smart Cities Council. Hackathons bring together the good hackers in an organized competition to see who can make the biggest contribution to the community in 24 hours or less. 
  2. ^ Dept Business(2013) Page 7 "As consumers of private goods and services we have been empowered by the Web and, as citizens, we expect the same quality from our public services. In turn, public authorities are seeking to reduce costs and raise performance by adopting similar approaches in the delivery of public services. However, the concept of a Smart City goes way beyond the transactional relationships between citizen and service provider. It is essentially enabling and encouraging the citizen to become a more active and participative member of the community"
  3. ^ Dept Business(2013) Page 5 "Challenges Faced by Cities and the Need for Smarter Approaches"
  4. ^ Komninos(2009) Pages 337–355
  5. ^ Paskaleva, K (25 January 2009). "Enabling the smart city:The progress of e-city governance in Europe". International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development 1 (4): 405–422(18). doi:10.1504/ijird.2009.022730. 
  6. ^ Dept Business(2013) Page 3 Arup estimates that the global market for smart urban systems for transport, energy, healthcare, water and waste will amount to around $400 Billion pa. by 2020
  7. ^ Giffinger, Rudolf; Christian Fertner; Hans Kramar; Robert Kalasek; Nataša Pichler-Milanovic; Evert Meijers (2007). "Smart cities – Ranking of European medium-sized cities" (PDF). Smart Cities. Vienna: Centre of Regional Science. 
  8. ^ "Definitions and overviews". Smart Cities Council. The smart city sector is still in the "I know it when I see it" phase, without a universally agreed definition. The Council defines a smart city as one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions 
  9. ^ Caragliu, A; Del Bo, C. & Nijkamp, P (2009). "Smart cities in Europe". Serie Research Memoranda 0048 (VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics). 
  10. ^ Sarwant Singh (19 June 2014). "Smart Cities -- A $1.5 Trillion Market Opportunity". Forbes. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "About". IEEE Smart Cities. 
  12. ^ "Smart City - Definition". 
  13. ^ "Draft Concept Note on Smart City Scheme" (PDF). Government of India - Ministry of Urban Development. 
  14. ^ a b c Hollands(2008) Pages 303–320
  15. ^ Ballon, P; Glidden, J.; Kranas, P.; Menychtas, A.; Ruston, S.; Van Der Graaf, S. (2011). Is there a Need for a Cloud Platform for European Smart Cities? (PDF). eChallenges e-2011. Florence, Italy. 
  16. ^ Deakin, M (2007). "From city of bits to e-topia: taking the thesis on digitally-inclusive regeneration full circle". Journal of Urban Technology 14 (3): 131–143. 
  17. ^ Deakin, M; Allwinkle, S (2007). "Urban regeneration and sustainable communities: the role of networks, innovation and creativity in building successful partnerships". Journal of Urban Technology 14 (1): 77–91. doi:10.1080/10630730701260118. 
  18. ^ A, Coe; Paquet, G. and Roy, J. (2001). "E-governance and smart communities: a social learning challenge" (PDF). Social Science Computer Review 19 (1): 80–93. 
  19. ^ Komninos(2008) Pages 112-113
  20. ^ Atlee, T. and Pór, George (2006). Collective Intelligence by Tom Atlee and George Pór Evolutionary Nexus: connecting communities for emergence. 
  21. ^ Mitchell,W. (2007). "Intelligent cities". e-Journal on the Knowledge Society. 
  22. ^ Boyle, D.; Yates, D.; Yeatman, E. (2013). "Urban Sensor Data Streams: London 2013". IEEE Internet Computing 17 (6): 1. doi:10.1109/MIC.2013.85.  edit
  23. ^ "WikiSensing: An Online Collaborative Approach for Sensor Data Management". doi:10.3390/s121013295. 
  24. ^ Schaffers, H., Komninos, N., Pallot, M., Trousse, B., and Nilsson M. (2011). The Future Internet. Vol. 6656. pp. 431–446. ISBN 9783642208973. 
  25. ^ "MIT Cities". MIT. 
  26. ^ "IntelCities". Intelcities project. 
  27. ^ "Intelligent City Platforms". URENIO. 
  28. ^ "Home". URENIO. 
  29. ^ "AIM". Smart Cities project. 
  30. ^ "Network as the Next Utility for "Intelligent Urbanisation"". CISCO. 
  31. ^ "About IBM". IBM. 
  32. ^ "The Intelligent Communities of the Year 1999-2010". 
  33. ^ Greenfield, A. (2013). Against the Smart City. London: Verso. ASIN B00FHQ5DBS. 
  34. ^ Graham, S.; Marvin, S. (1996). Telecommunications and the city: electronic spaces, urban place. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780203430453. 

Further reading[edit]

Most recently published first

External links[edit]

National initiatives