Road to Smart City Strategy of Turkey


The discussion on smart cities is also gaining traction in Turkey where three quarters of the 78 million population live in the 30 metropolitan municipalities. Moreover, Turkey’s largest city İstanbul is on its way to be one permanent members of the world’s mega list with its close to 15 million population, where one of five of Turkey’s inhabitants live. The rapid urbanization of Turkey is forcing the country to make a quick and fast entry to the smart city eco-system.

A report published early this year aims to shed a light to those discussions on transformation to smart cities and provide guidance to both city leaders and policy makers. The Project was designed and implemented by NOVUSENS Smart City Institute, with the ownership of Turkey Informatics Foundation, academic support of ITU Computer Engineering and Informatics Faculty and commissioned by Mastercard Turkey and Intel Turkey. The Project resulted in a deep Current Situational Analysis of Turkey in Smart Cities where the scope covered was Energy, Transportation and Water fields.




Objective and Approach

Turkey Informatics Association (TBV) has started the Turkey Smart Cities Strategy Initiative that is expected to serve as a reference to all organizations that deal with smart cities. The initiative has two phases of which the first has been completed. The outcome of the first phase ‘Turkey Smart Cities Assessment Report’ has been published in March 2016.

The study covering transportation, energy, and water areas aimed to portray the current situation of smart cities in Turkey and shed light to the development of a nationwide strategy and roadmap for smart cities projects in Turkey.   

The study was conducted between June 2015 and January 2016 among Turkey’s 30 Metropolitan Municipalities and its subsidiaries (representing 77% of total population), energy and distribution organizations with the collaboration of TBV, İstanbul Technical University Computer Engineering Department, design and implementation of Novusens Smart Cities Institute and sponsorship of MasterCard and Intel Turkey. In total 105 organizations have participated to the study. 

During the Project, a series of face to face interviews has been made with organizations involved and a survey has been designed and conducted to gather information on their smart city applications. The results were then analyzed at depth and current approaches, challenges and factors seen as critical for the success of smart city projects have been reported. 


Main findings

Although smart cities provide a lot of benefits with the help of technology, it is important that the focus of these solutions are citizens rather than technology itself. Use of technology as a tool to improve the quality of life of its citizens is of critical importance for the success of smart city applications. 

The main findings of the study include the below:

1. The most important challenge in smart city applications was reported as financial capability where 60% of the respondents indicated use of Municipality resources.  

2.Lack of collaboration among organizations was another imported obstacle to smart city applications. It was also among the most important success factors for such applications. Especially the collaboration between NGOs, universities and other municipalities were in need of improvement.

3. Innovative approaches in smart city applications was reported to be the most important critical success factor for such applications. The institutions need to follow technological developments in smart cities closely and internalize them in order to adapt them quickly to the needs of the city, while caring for change and innovation management.  

4. Experience in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) was another critical success factor for smart city applications. Combined with lack of skills and information in smart cities, the importance of skilled human resources becomes evident.  

5. The inclusion of citizens into smart city implementation processes is considered very important in realization of such projects. Meanwhile, the improvement of citizen’s life and and increase of living standards was reported as the top choice among smart city application objectives.

6. It was observed that the current smart city applications did not make use cloud technologies and big data analytics as much as one would expect especially compared to other technologies. On the other hand mobile applications are used widely. 

7. Infrastructure for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was reported both as one of the most critical success factors and also one of the most important barriers for smart city applications.   

8. Smart cards and smart devices are used by a quarter of the respondents for payment purposes and the majority of such applications are in the area of transportation. 

9. Nearly 90% of the respondents indicated that they find the opening of local data produced by the smart city applications to public use for developing ICT leveraged innovative solutions as beneficial provided that the privacy and security concerns are taken into consideration. 

10. The most common smart applications in transportation area are traffic monitoring systems, electronic payment systems and smart bus stops. 

11. In the energy area, smart street lighting, electricty distribution, smart grids and smart electric meters are the commonly observed smart applications. 

12. Electronic payment systems is reported as the top smart application in the water area followed by smart water meters, and smart demand management. 

13. Every 2 metropolitan municipalities out of 3 plan smart applications in the transportation area, followed by energy and water. 

As a follow-up of the first phase of the initiative, the second phase is planned to depict Turkey’s Smart City Road Map and Strategy followed by a final report.  



Established in 2009 in Ankara-Turkey, NOVUSENS Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute is an independent ‘Think Tank’ organization developing innovation policies and strategies, using high technologies to increase the life quality of the people, focusing on new opportunities to contribute economic growth, developing new innovative models to shape the future to have better lives, making research studies, delivering professional consultancy and training services in Turkey and abroad. 

Under NOVUSENS, the Big Data Institute was established in 2013 followed by the Smart City Institute in 2014. The Institute aims to contribute to the transformation of Smart Cities and building up of new ones supported by high technological infrastructure through unique and value added solutions of PPP model to achieve ‘Citizen Satisfaction and Happiness’.

Turkey Smart Cities Assessment Report has been prepared by Berrin Benli and Melih Gezer of NOVUSENS Smart City Institute.

by Berrin Benli /  Co-founder of NOVUSENS-Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute 


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