Smart Cities: A Futuristic Vision


The United Nations expects almost doubling of urban population by 2050, while the global population will increase from 7 billion to almost 10 billion. Currently, half of the total population lives in cities. The world is at an unprecedented level of urbanization: the top 25 cities of the world today account for half of the world’s wealth; the top 25 cities of the world today account for half of the world’s wealth; about  10 percent of the world population lives in the top 30 metropolises, and 600 cities accommodate its quarter; the 30 largest cities alone are projected to drive 20% of global GDP growth from 2010 to 2020; cities consume 60% to 80% of the world’s energy production…

The accelerating growth of cities and their disproportionate consumption of physical and social resources are unsustainable, as are the traditional systems cities rely upon to deliver resources. The future of our world is decided by the quality of its future cities. It is projected that over 40 global cities will come up as Smart Cities by the year 2020. almost 300 smart city pilots are currently planned in China and India alone. This paper attempts to put together a new definition and concept of Smart Cities encompassing its major characteristics such as heritage, aesthetics, e. bricks, economy, environment and modern lifestyle.

A city represents and symbolizes the genesis, evolution and ascent of a great civilization that the Nation should be truly proud of. A smart city is, however, perceived to be a harmonic blend of history with character, heritage, aesthetics, architecture, e. bricks, economy, environment and modern lifestyle. The term ‘Smart City’ has been around since the 1990’s and various definitions have emphasized different aspects of the term. Common elements among these definitions are that ‘Smart Cities’ use information – communication technology (ICT) (i.e. e. bricks) to engage citizens, to deliver city services, and to enhance urban systems. A smart city is designed to optimize residents’ quality of life by leveraging technology and integrating several essential functions like managing citizens’ data, intelligent transportation, public safety and security among others. Primarily, smart city deployments come with multiple features and state-of-the-art technologies (ICT implementations) and comprise of diverse ecosystems of technology providers. Various devices like sensors, gateways, communication infrastructure and servers will collectively bring to life the concept of ‘Internet of Things’ – a critical component in shaping the cities of the future.


LThe SC concept can be looked upon as a framework for implementing the vision of advanced and modern urbanization


The use of Smart City technologies results in cost efficiencies, resilient infrastructure, and an improved urban experience. ‘Smart cities’ is the latest concept when it comes to building the cities of the future. Smart cities are expected to be the key to combining a sustainable future with continued economic growth and job creation to add a new identity and unique value to the lifestyle. Bench-marking of the city on a globally competitive basis, good governance and rendering civic utility services, at its best, can be some of the hallmarks of ‘sustainable’ smart cities in the new era. The new innovations being put forth and built around the Smart city framework now includes: eco-city, eco-town, eco-village; and last but not the least, ‘aerotropolis’.


The Vision of Smart Cities

The phrase Smart Cities is not new. It may have its origins in the Smart Growth movement of the late 1990s, which advocated new policies for urban planning. Portland (Oregon, USA) is widely recognized as an example of Smart Growth. The phrase has been adopted since 2005 by a number of technology companies for the application of complex information systems to integrate the operation of urban infrastructure and services such as buildings, transportation, electrical and water distribution, and public safety. It has since evolved to mean almost any form of technology-based innovation in the planning, development, and operation of cities.

Today's cities face significant challenges such as increasing population, lack of physical and social infrastructure, environmental and regulatory requirements, declining tax bases and budgets, and increased costs. They have to learn to identify new and smart ways to manage the complexity of urban living, and problems ranging from pollution, overcrowding and urban sprawl to inadequate housing, high unemployment, resource management, environmental protection, and rising crime rates. Long standing urban challenges include housing, especially for low-income populations, infrastructure provision, and the delivery of a variety of services including water, sanitation, education and health.

 Growth achieved by cities is linked to their ability to address issues related to urbanization and associated social, environmental and economic issues in a holistic manner, while making the most of future opportunities. The smart city concept can be looked upon as a framework for implementing this vision of advanced and modern urbanization. The vision of “Smart Cities” is the urban center of the future, made safe, secure environmentally green, and efficient because all structures -whether for power, water, transportation, etc. are designed, constructed, and maintained making use of advanced, integrated materials, sensors, electronics, and networks which are interfaced with computerized systems comprised of databases, tracking, and decision-making algorithms. The evolution of Smart Cities over a period of five decades (1950-2000) is illustrated below in a graphic form.



smart city history


 The research and engineering challenges along the way to this vision encompass many technical fields including physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computing science, systems, mechanical, electronics and civil engineering. Each of these vital elements must be identified or, if already existing, tailored for the appropriate application. At the next level is the design of the system making use of these components. Associated with this would be the interface to the computerized “monitoring” capability for each given function. Next are the full structure or service supplied, and lastly, the integration of information across all related and seemingly unrelated aspects of an urban centers essential infrastructure. 

A city that monitors and integrates conditions of all of its critical infrastructures, including roads, bridges, tunnels, rail/subways, airports, seaports, communications, water, power, even major buildings, can better optimize its resources, plan its preventive maintenance activities, and monitor security aspects while maximizing services to its citizens. Emergency response management to both natural as well as man-made challenges to the system can be focused and rapid. With the advanced monitoring systems and built-in smart sensors, data can be collected and evaluated in real time, enhancing city management’s decision-making. In a Smart city, among other things, the physical environment, air, water, and surrounding green spaces will have to be monitored in non-obtrusive ways for optimal quality, thus creating an enhanced living and working environment that is clean, efficient, and secure and that offers these advantages within the framework of the most effective use of all resources.



Many of the attributes and benefits of the Smart Cities Initiative as mentioned above do not do justice to the very real and tangible good that can be derived from its realization. Smart Cities has a very human and simple ultimate goal: a greatly improved living and working environment for our urban populations. Commerce, transportation, a multitude of human services, education, and housing along with a greatly improved environment and greatly enhanced safety and security can be achieved sooner and more cost effectively with this Initiative. The core objective function of the Smart City Vision should essentially be to create a policy and regulatory design that dynamically set Nation-wide standards of urban living.


A city that monitors and integrates conditions of all of its critical infrastructures maximizes services to its citizens


Smart City: Focus on Infrastructure

Infrastructure of a city comprises of, inter alia, housing, sanitation, water supply and sewage, electric power supply and distribution, transportation, waste management and communication. Smart city infrastructure differentiates itself from the traditional urban infrastructure through its ability to respond intelligently to changes in its environment, including user demands and other infrastructure, to achieve an improved performance. Smart City Infrastructure provides foundations to all the six key themes related to a smart city namely: smart mobility, smart economy, smart living, smart governance, smart people and smart environment. But the smart infrastructure components are highly context specific and their nature is determined by the level of development of the cities as well as by the specific developmental challenges. For a city in a developing country, the immediate need is to provide adequate urban infrastructure to meet the increasing pace of urbanization.

Furthermore, these smart infrastructure applications have the potential to provide foundations for new innovations that will promote efficiency and better management of resources. For example, the data generated by new smart mobility infrastructure could provide useful information for redesigning transport networks as well as to build new smart mobility apps. In developed countries, the challenge is to maintain the legacy infrastructure systems, which cannot be abandoned due to cost, space and other considerations. Here smart infrastructure applications would focus more on facilitating optimal use of these existing legacy infrastructure resources and monitoring of operations of these resources.


Smart City Circle



State of Smart Cities: The Global Scene 

The future of our world is decided by the quality of its future cities; some are age-old, and yet, some are in the offing. Globally, there are about 700 cities, each with population exceeding 500,000; whereas the top 25 cities of the world today account for half of the world’s wealth. The infrastructure investment for the cities is forecast to be hovering around a figure of circa $30 trillion to $40 trillion, cumulatively, over the next 20 years. It is projected that over 40 global cities will come up as Smart Cities by the year 2020. On the top, the United Nations expects almost doubling of urban population by 2050, while the global population will increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion. Of course, with the enhancement in the standard of living, quality lifestyle, and increase in the life expectancy there could possibly be some stabilization and dissent. Just about ten percent of the world population lives in the top 30 metropolises, and 600 cities accommodate its quarter. Currently, half of the total population lives in cities. The world is at an unprecedented level of urbanization. The trajectory of the rapid urban population growth is not just an interesting fact but requires a demanding imperative for sustainable development and better livability. The expansion of cities faces a variety of challenges. Although cities occupy less than two percent of the landmass of the earth, urban residents consume over three quarters of the world’s natural resources and are primarily responsible for green-house gas (GHG) emissions. Problems arising from rapid urbanization indicate a loss of basic functionalities to be a livable place: for example, difficulty in waste management, scarcity of resources, air pollution, human health concerns, traffic congestion, and inadequate, deteriorating and aging infrastructures; and a host of other things.


Cities are now taking the lead and developing strategies to address climate change impacts through mitigation and adaptation actions


The vision of Smart Cities is quickly becoming a reality as urban centers around the world look to create communities that become the places where people want to live learn and play and where businesses seek to invest. Smart Cities like Songdo, Barcelona and Lake Nona, etc. use information technology, network communications including the Internet, and sensors to automate routine processes plus provide rapid and intelligent decision-making for creating dramatic efficiencies and cost savings in existing functions and processes. Smart Cities connect governments much more closely to people. They provide the support infrastructure to deliver new services, and address a wide range of urban challenges – from environmental sustainability to job creation and economic growth.


Sustainable Future of SC

By 2050, the global population is expected to grow to over nine billion, and 80 percent of that population will reside in cities. Today, cities are home to just over half of the global population of seven billion. Meanwhile, cities comprise just two percent of the Earth’s land mass and are responsible for the consumption of 80 percent of the Earth’s natural resources. The accelerating growth of cities and their disproportionate consumption of physical and social resources are unsustainable, as are the traditional systems cities rely upon to deliver resources. While urbanization continues to contribute to increased carbon emissions globally, local action is critical for achieving a low carbon future. In the absence of binding international climate action in conformity to the spirit of ‘Kyoto Protocol’, as well as limited leadership in many state governments, cities are now taking the lead and developing strategies to address climate change impacts through mitigation and adaptation actions. In many respects, cities are our best hope for tackling climate change for combating the twin chronic problems of ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Food Security’ for ushering into the new era of ‘Green Economy’. 

‘Smart cities’ is the latest concept when it comes to building the cities of the future. Smart cities are expected to be the key to combining a sustainable future with continued economic growth and job creation. There are many definitions of a smart city including sustainable, livable, intelligent and green. However, the common denominator seems to be access to data and intelligent tools to connect knowledge and people to drive change. What set mart Cities aside compared to ‘Eco Cities’ and ‘Sustainable Cities’ is its strategic use of new and high-tech, ICT-based solutions to connect the citizens and technologies of the city on a common platform. The global trend of urbanization and population growth, which puts ever increasing pressure on the world’s cities, creates a necessity to develop smart and sustainable solutions within the cities to cope with the effects of an increasing population. Furthermore cities constitute the biggest contributor to a given country’s GDP. By 2025, the 600 biggest cities in the world are projected to account for 60% of global GDP. The 30 largest cities alone are projected to drive 20% of global GDP growth from 2010 to 2020. 

We are living in momentous times; probably one of the few points in human history when mankind is called upon to act united and focused to face a number of major collective challenges. Contemporary governments, businesses and individuals are faced with an unprecedented responsibility towards future generations. The situation calls for a quick and significant reconceptualization of current economic and societal models and the governance of the required change poses complex policy challenges with little or no room for errors. Human development since the Industrial Revolution has had serious impacts on the environment, and the growth and destructive actions of human society have resulted in negative impacts on the Earth’s sub-systems. Reaching sustainability will require significant and widespread changes in human behavior; including of course the undesirable anthropogenic activities causing emissions hazards. 


Hong Kong


After the 2008 crisis, smart sustainable development of port areas/cities should be developed on the basis of specific principles: the synergy principle (between different actors/systems, in particular the socio-cultural and economic system), the creativity principle and the circularization principle. The Historic Urban landscape (HUL) approach becomes the guarantee that the transition toward the smart city development model is based on specific local cultural resources, and not only on technological innovations. In other words, the eco-town/eco-city strategy becomes culture-led. It stimulates places as spatial “loci” for implementing synergies and circularization processes. Thus, cultural heritage is a key component of the city system: it should be viewed as a dynamic adaptive subsystem that evolves over time (with changes) under the pressure of many different forces (due to economic growth, market pressures, decline, and regeneration processes), while still maintaining its identity, integrity and continuity.

The CSTD (the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development) examined 'Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Urbanization', as one of its priority themes for the period 2012-2013 and a detailed UNCTAD current studies paper on this theme was later published. CSTD analyzed trends of urbanization, the role of science, technology and innovation in urban systems, sustainable urban planning in terms of spatial use, mobility and resilience against natural hazards. Prudent management of urban resources including energy, water, waste, buildings and agriculture was also discussed. The deliberations underlined the need to make urbanization a key consideration in national innovation systems, adopt innovative governance and financing models for cities, and facilitate inter-city learning wherever possible.

The CSTD’s newly agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development places key importance on issues related to sustainable urbanization, and a specific goal (number 11) has been adopted towards this end, namely, 'make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable'. As well, a number of other goals, including, inter alia, those on ending poverty (Goal 1), health (Goal 3), gender equality (Goal 5), education (Goal 4), water and sanitation (Goal 6), sustainable energy (Goal 7), inclusive economic growth and productive employment (Goal 8), and climate change (Goal 13), are all linked strongly with urbanization issues. Given the current urbanization trends, it is clear that there will be no sustainable development without sustainable urban development. Further, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) took place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October, 2016. The Habitat III provided an opportunity to discuss a new urban agenda that will focus on policies and strategies that can result in effectively harnessing the power and forces behind urbanization.


Each city is of a unique kind and its futuristic growth is very much determined by the growth of culture and civilization, inhabiting the city


The Key Role of Architecture and Planning 

Architecture and urban planning can contribute to an enhancement of the quality of urban space. Architecture can improve the “atmosphere” and the landscape, because it gives a characterizing image to ports, which may became a brand for the whole city. At stake is the relationship between the old and the new, between tradition and modernization, resulting in the ability to make the whole city “more attractive”. The relationship between the ancient and the new is clearly delicate: modern architecture constructions can seriously damage the aesthetic value of cultural and historic landscapes, existing ecosystems, etc. By means of a high-quality architecture projects and planning, the urban landscape is preserved, enhanced and created. Real creative architecture produces “places” and not only marketing tools to multiply real estate value and business. It contributes to preserving the character and the atmosphere of a place without twisting it exclusively for commercial, functional or economic needs. It stimulates real life, not only events: communication among people, face-to-face relationships, symbolic values, which stimulate aggregation capability, sense and feeling of belonging, and collective identity. If architecture joins planning and management, port areas are places that may become the starting point for innovative local development strategies within a systemic perspective, based on the circular approach, for reducing/eradicating waste. The eco-town model or the eco-city model may then become a key perspective for urban strategic planning. Planning and design become then also key tools to implement in the concrete physical space the above model, aiming at increasing the prosperity of the city.

Figure below shows the key layers of planning and development of a smart city. ICT infrastructure forms the foundation of a smart city. It is the fundamental layer on which all other components rely. ICT infrastructure comprises high speed wired and wireless network connectivity, high end data centers, physical space enrichment with smart devices, sensors, actuators and much more. E-governance layer facilitates the development of strategic connections between various departments of public sector organization. This layer formulates the policies, rules and legislations to improve the performance of government organizations and offer potential benefits to citizens. Depending upon the infrastructure and policies formulated at e-governance layer, various public services will be offered to citizens and other stake holders, in an efficient and effective manner, ubiquitously.



Smart city Stakeholder


Smart Cities: The Global Models

There are apparently no fixed patterns, rules, norms or even common trends in which a city is evolved over time and turn into the state of being recognized as a smart city. On the contrary, each city is of a unique kind and its futuristic growth is very much determined by the growth of culture and civilization, inhabiting the city. With the passage of time, even the concept of smart cities undergoes metamorphosis; and what we see and believe today to be a smart city by the present level of understanding and, shall we say benchmarking, may diminish to the state of oblivion due to obsolesce over time, giving birth to the new genre and new brand of smart cities

The global urbanization trend is creating an urgency to find smarter ways to manage the accompanying challenges. Sustainable cities have become a highly desired goal for future urban development sans detriment to ecology. Ensuring livable conditions within the context of such rapid urban population growth worldwide requires a deeper understanding of the smart city concept. The urgency around these challenges is triggering many cities around the world to find smarter ways to manage them. These cities are increasingly described with the label ‘smart city’. One way to conceptualize a smart city is as an icon of a sustainable and livable city. Globally, the good examples are: Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Paris, London, Birmingham, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Rio de Janeiro, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, California, Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, and India’ s Mumbai, Bangalore, Auroville (Pondicherry). 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 (Belgium), 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 economic inclusion.


Conservation and Economics Focus of SC 

Enabling the technology to communicate, be able to share the gathered data with people or other technologies or borrow relevant data from elsewhere and make the technology multifunctional, they provide solutions to not only one, but to multiple problems. The ‘Smart City’ can therefore be defined as a city which makes it surplus into resources through its use of information and communication technologies combined with sustainable and environmentally friendly multiple solutions. It should emphasis the need to improve the level of mobility and connectedness through collaboration and open source knowledge on all levels of the society focusing on: infrastructure, energy, water and wastewater treatment and green buildings.

IBM introduced the Urban Information Model as a means to structure and classify the many different types of information contained or flowing in these networks. From an information technology point of view, it is helpful to think of the Urban Information Model as a very large number of layers representing a common two-dimensional space, the territory of the urban environment, whether that is a single city or a metropolis. This Urban Information Model is illustrated in a highly simplified form in figure given below. This is a simplified view of the Urban Information Model. Each plane represents a group of layers containing different, but related, types of information about the two-dimensional space.


Social Systems


 Such a model is often instantiated in a Geographic Information System (GIS), however increasingly social networking tools are taking this model in new directions. The groups of layers are: 1. The Natural Environment group including topography, flora and fauna, natural resources, geology, and so forth. 2. The Infrastructure group including the Built Environment (roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, pipelines, electrical and communication lines, and so forth) as well as Things That Move (trains, boats, buses, and so forth) that is constructed on the Natural Environment. 3. The Resources group representing materials that originate in and eventually return to the Natural Environment after passing through various processes of refining and consumption in the Services group as well as capacities that are temporarily consumed, for example by the passage of a vehicle over a bridge, and are then re-generated.

‘Smart Cities’ of late, have been recognized to be important economic actors. They can contribute to initiatives and long-term projects that build new innovation ecosystems which in turn can open new opportunities and perspectives. The smart city concept is particularly promising in this respect. It promises competitiveness and economic growth through highly educated talent, high tech industries and pervasive electronic connections. Creating conditions for continuous learning and innovation is a prerequisite for achieving smart cities. Ideally, ‘Smart Cities’ should be dynamic, vibrant and exhibit an ability to innovate, reorganize, and adapt to changing conditions. 


People-Centred Vision of SC

As cities bring people together to live, work and play, they amplify their ability to create wealth and ideas. But scale and density also bring acute challenges: how to move around people and things; how to provide energy; how to keep people safe. For several decades the ideas brought together under the label ‘smart cities’ have offered answers to these challenges. The combination of sensors, data and advanced computing has promised to speed up information flows, reduce waste and sharply improve how efficiently resources can be managed. Cities and national governments around the world are investing in the potential of smart cities at an ever increasing rate: in China and India alone almost 300 smart city pilots are currently planned, and Arup predicts a global market for smart city technologies and services worth $408 billion by 2020.

A ‘Smart City’ is at heart, a city; the reason for a city to exist is to provide a place for people to live, work, and play with others who want to do the same. A ‘Smart City’ helps people to live, work, and play while requiring fewer resources. A ‘Smart City’ is therefore an extension of a sustainable city: creating the most benefit for the most people while minimizing the impacts. In simple terms, a ‘Smart City’ offers these benefits by making life easier for members of the community. That ease is provided by operating the community’s systems efficiently, including physical systems (viz. transport and power) as well as administration. The benefits accrue to the entire community by reducing energy consumption, reducing costs, and simplifying the time and energy an individual needs to expend to live, work, and play. ‘Smart Cities’ also offer the members of the community more venues to participate in their community. By providing connections, ‘Smart Cities’ allow people to provide input on the direction of their community; learn about goods, services, or volunteer activities; and connect to other people with similar interests, all on their own time and in manners that encourage connection. The primary benefit of Smart Cities, therefore, is to create a more connected community.

The proliferation of ‘Smart Cities’ initiatives around the world is part of the strategic response by governments to the challenges and opportunities of increasing urbanization and the rise of cities as the nexus of societal development. As a framework for urban transformation, Smart City initiatives aim to harness Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge Infrastructures for economic regeneration, social cohesion, better city administration and infrastructure management. However, experiences from earlier Smart City initiatives have revealed several technical, management and governance challenges arising from the inherent nature of a Smart City as a complex “Socio-technical Systems”. While these early lessons are informing modest objectives for planned Smart Cities programs, no rigorous developed framework based on careful analysis of existing initiatives is available to guide policymakers, practitioners, and other Smart City stakeholders.


Ideally, ‘Smart Cities’ should be dynamic, vibrant and exhibit an ability to innovate, reorganize, and adapt to changing conditions


Breaking down the Silos of Knowledge 

Besides the development and integration of new and smart technologies in a Smart City system, the Smart City requires new modes of governance to be developed. These must be less ‘top-down’ than traditional governance policies and instead focus on more horizontal governance solutions which spur collaboration and networking between different actors across society. As things stand now, much of the knowledge needed to create Smart City solutions is clustered in different ‘silos of knowledge’. 

These silos are often separated from each other, so that the knowledge of one does not benefit that of the other. This is one of the reasons why many of the individual e.g. (Smart Growth, Smart Cities, and the Crisis at the Pump A Worldwide Phenomenon technologies) already mentioned are not able to function together in a single Smart City system as they were developed in separate spheres. In order for future, multi-functional Smart City solutions to be developed, these silos of knowledge need to be opened up and integrated into one another. In other words, smart cities require different stakeholders (producers, knowledge institutions, citizens, municipalities etc.) to collaborate. Cities are home to an abundance of individual people, companies, institutions etc. all with their own agendas and purposes and all with their own place in the city system. On one hand this means that there are many different stakeholders with many different perceptions of the city which need to collaborate in order to develop smart solutions for the city. This, of course, is a difficult task as the different stakeholders of the Smart City have very different ways of assessing value. 

While businesses tend to focus on driving shareholder returns and maximizing profits, city municipalities and politicians strive to deliver high quality services for the benefit of the city’s inhabitants. Moreover, city dwellers value greater choice, service improvements and opportunities to save money. The Smart City requires collaboration between all these stakeholders. On the other hand, as the collective intelligence of a larger group of people exceeds that of a few, modern cities are hubs of knowledge and creativity. Cities are by definition home to a large group of people whose collective intelligence about the city often exceeds the knowledge of the individual city planner. This collective intelligence is still in many ways an untapped resource, and harvesting it is what will ultimately make the city smart.




 E. Bricks of SC: A Living Human Laboratory

Being a smart city means using all available technology and resources in an intelligent and coordinated manner to develop urban centers that are at once integrated, habitable and sustainable. ICT has opened up whole new dimensions to urban development. However, as we already mentioned, there is more to smart cities than just ICT. City authorities must try to take into account all the various factors that create value and bring success to the city, both at the local and international level. For instance, E-government operations require citizens and external organizations to receive appropriate e-services, delivered by an organization’s automated business processes and supported by information and communication technologies (ICT). The delivering organization must therefore be able to manage these services, typically through business units and officers who are responsible for the development of business processes and ICT. This area of service management can be reinforced and strengthened, however, by using architectures: business architectures, information systems architectures, technology architectures and the processes used to produce them.

Cities have always been complex. As new methods for creating, communicating, and using data continue to emerge, information and infrastructure become more interconnected and the complexity of cities is elevated. Increasingly, cities are employing digital systems to communicate with citizens and stakeholders, utilizing data and information for planning and service delivery, and honing the digital skills required to participate in society and be economically successful. For cities to become both smart and sustainable – more environmentally sound, economically prosperous and socially just – they must integrate the use of big data and ICT both into daily processes and in the pursuit of their pressing goals. Moving quickly into the 21st Century, it becomes apparent that a city’s overall livability will have to enter a new dimension and horizon in order to keep pace with the growing population and finite resources. Technological innovation, coupled with smart connectivity that leverages the growing Internet of Things, can solve the actual pressure points related to traffic congestion, waste/pollution management and energy efficiency that will take the city livability to new levels.

Smart cities are always a ‘work in progress’; but cities across the world would have a better chance at earning the most livable accolade when smart city initiatives are implemented with real business outcomes and the end-users unique needs in mind.

 Worldwide, smart cities are on the rise and city planners are working tirelessly to attract the business and talent required to realize the true potential of smart cities. Being aware of the dearth of skilled taskforce to combat the burgeoning security threats, apex industry bodies like NASSCOM are working with security vendors like Symantec to develop world-class skilled and certified professionals. These initiatives are an attempt to bridge the cyber security skill gap that exists in the country, thus paving way for the secure smart city of the future.

There is also a need to make economic development sustainable in environmental terms. This could involve ICT-based ‘Smart Networks’ to reduce energy transmission costs and improve the resilience of utility networks by matching demand and supply dynamically. Such networks would have the additional advantage of allowing local cogeneration to meet local power demand. They could also provide individual utility users with accurate and timely information to enable them to take costs and environmental impact into account when choosing and using appliances. Another class of examples is provided by city mobility systems that use sensors, processors and ICT-driven traffic controls to provide Smart and efficient arteries. As we have made clear, however, other aspects (social, welfare, cultural, quality of life) are also critical for balanced Smart City development. Underpinning each of these features is the need for new modes of bottom-up and top-down holistic governance, which also enable and encourage broad participation and engagement by all stakeholders in all aspects of a city’s life.




As microcosms of the Internet of Everything (IoE), cities stand to benefit the most from connecting people, process, data, and things. Working with Cisco, in partnership with global and local innovators, cities are developing IoE-related projects, platforms, and implementations. Importantly, the IoE ambitions and scope are designed to respond to the need for real-time, context-specific information intelligence and analytics to address specific local imperatives. The lessons and framework from many pilots can provide other cities with a pattern language for progressing strategies, and for developing their own city initiatives. IoE technical architectures for cities require seamless integration of sensors in a mutualized communication environment. Traditionally, a specific network is deployed around a given application, such as streetlight management, video surveillance, or environmental monitoring. While separate networks provide a natural separation of domains, typically they are not optimized (costs, security, availability), bringing about information silos. In addition, interaction between the sensor and devices in each network requires specific integration. Cities are exploring the deployment of horizontal multiservice infrastructures that will host all of the city’s systems. Such approaches are designed to facilitate easy, seamless integration of new applications that typically require installation of end devices and relevant software stacks.


Much of the knowledge needed to create SC solutions is clustered in different ‘silos of knowledge’


Cities are becoming laboratories for smart, tech savvy innovations. Large and small cities around the world are actively experimenting with digital technologies which can provide creative solutions to urban problems and, properly harnessed, can collectively reshape the economic, operational and social fabric of cities. Today the Internet has permeated into almost every facet of business and society, not to mention our cities. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) are key catalysts in the evolution of smart cities. Cities are benefiting from connecting people, processes, data and things through the exponential advancements in information and communications technology. It is expected that by 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices. Many of these will be in our cities. Ubiquitous connectivity and the increasing use of sensors and digital devices are enabling the birth of ‘smart’ urban infrastructure. Combine this with improvements in analytics and cognitive intelligence, and cities are developing tools and systems to better monitor performance, detect patterns, predict trends and visualize spatially large amounts of information. In doing so, it is enhancing the way cities make informed decisions, how infrastructure is managed, services are delivered and how they communicate, engage and learn from their citizens.


A Strategic Plan–Turning Amsterdam into a SC

Amsterdam (Holland) is a great example of a phase three smart city that is an active “living lab” where innovative solutions to the city’s problems are trialed, tested, and tweaked in real time and with real citizen and user engagement. Amsterdam Smart City is a partnership between businesses, governments, knowledge institutions and the people of Amsterdam and is tasked with turning Amsterdam into a smart city. It challenges businesses, residents, the municipality and knowledge institutions to suggest and apply innovative ideas and solutions to urban issues. Since 2009, Amsterdam Smart City has grown into a platform comprising of in excess of 100 partners, who are actively involved in more than 97 innovative projects. By fostering innovation, facilitating engagement with disruptive technologies, promoting efficient and effective government services, and acting as an advocacy group for open-data, open-government principles, Amsterdam’s smart city platform connects all of the city’s stakeholders through ‘smart’ collaborations; bringing them together with the purpose of developing and implementing shared ideas and solutions for the city.

Amsterdam Smart City focuses on five key areas -smart mobility, smart living, smart society, smart areas and smart economy- supported by a commitment to Big and Open Data, quality infrastructure and living labs where the city can test new products and services in a real life setting.


Eco-Centric Trajectories of Smart Cities

The pathway taken by urban development over the next few decades will play a crucial role in the trajectory of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource depletion. Cities consume 60% to 80% of the world’s energy production, and with the urban population of the developing world projected to reach more than 5 billion people by 2050, ideas about how to combine urbanization and sustainability are of critical and immediate importance. In response, around the world, a few companies and government bodies have begun to explore the creation of “eco-cities”—a term that overlaps and is sometimes used interchangeably with “smart cities” or “sustainable cities.” According to the declaration of the World Eco-city Summit 2008 in San Francisco, “an eco-city is an ecologically healthy city. Into the deep future, the cities in which we live must enable people to thrive in harmony with nature and achieve sustainable development. People oriented, eco-city development requires the comprehensive understanding of complex interactions between environmental, economic, political and socio-cultural factors based on ecological principles. Cities, towns and villages should be designed to enhance the health and quality of life of their inhabitants and maintain the ecosystems on which they depend”. 

As this encompassing description implies, the term eco-city remains loosely defined. A second, similar definition comes from the World Bank “Eco-Cities” report: “Ecological cities enhance the wellbeing of citizens and society through integrated urban planning and management that fully harnesses the benefit of ecological systems, and protects and nurtures these assets for future generations.” 

Both definitions include environmental and social components and emphasize the importance of urban planning and management. Some observers have suggested that threats to the environment can be mitigated by eco-cities, which might provide “needed structural change for transition into a post-carbon economy.” Eco-city projects typically include: carbon emissions reduction and resource efficiency targets, economic development goals, and unique city designs to promote healthy, socially sustainable communities, as well as to gain recognition for sustainability. 



Smart City Resonates Modern Lifestyles

Maintaining equitable lifestyle, which is one of the missions of a Smart City, includes many rights like easement, passage and transport, clean water, continuous power supply, waste free surrounding, clean environment, citizen safety and security, friendly business policy etc. On many issues, there are legislations, regulations and policies, while in many others, there is vacuity. Where such legislations, regulations and policies exist, they suffer from clarity and coherence. There is a need to build up adequate national policy framework on these emerging issues with special reference to Smart Cities. In the governance of urban areas, city managers are faced with the challenge of balancing three overriding concerns: achieving a high quality of life for all citizens, maintaining economic competitiveness and protecting the natural environment. More and more, ICT is becoming a vital tool in the governance balancing act as buildings, transport networks and utilities systems. There seems to be a great potential for the application of ICT in the governance of the change that urban areas will have to undergo in the decades to come. In order to deliver on their promises, such technologies will have to be employed not only to increase the intelligence of socioeconomic systems but also to establish incentive structures promoting the creation of sustainable public value. 


The goal: initiatives are implemented with real business outcomes and the end-users unique needs in mind



The Six Pillars of Smart Cities

Smart cities have attracted an extensive and increasing interest from both science and industry with an increasing number of international examples emerging from across the world. However, despite the significant role that smart cities can play to deal with recent urban challenges, the concept has been criticized for being influenced by vendor hype. There are various attempts to conceptualize smart cities and various benchmarking methods have been developed to evaluate their impact. There are six commonly recognized dimensions among the approaches, namely people, government, economy, mobility, environment and smart living. To shed light on the smart cities concepts, various models for understanding and conceptualizing smart cities have been developed, which aim to define their scope, objectives and architectures. Smart cities, by and large, has a long history, character and heritage. With the passage of time and space, evolution and growth of civilization across the globe the very way the smart cities are conceived, designed are quite unique and continue to be innovative.

Countries falling under European Union (EU) have been striving hard for a long time to develop various medium-sized cities into Smart Cities. On the basis of Final Report published in October 2007 by the Centre of Regional Science (SRF), Vienna University, Austria, there are several fields of activity in relation to the term “Smart City”: industry, education, participation, technical infrastructure and various “soft factors”. Finally one can identify the following six characteristics of Smart Cities.

 The above figure illustrates the 6 characteristics and their assigned factors. Smart Economy includes factors all around economic competitiveness as innovation, entrepreneurship, trademarks, productivity and flexibility of the labour market as well as the integration in the (inter-)national market. Smart People are not only described by the level of qualification or education of the citizens but also by the quality of social interactions regarding integration and public life and the openness towards the “outer” world. Smart Governance comprises aspects of political participation, services for citizens as well as the functioning of the administration. Local and international accessibility are important aspects of Smart Mobility as well as the availability of information and communication technologies and modern and sustainable transport systems. Smart Environment is described by attractive natural conditions (climate, green space etc.), pollution, resource management and also by efforts towards environmental protection. Finally, Smart Living comprises various aspects of quality of life as culture, health, safety, housing, tourism etc.





The Vision for the Future  

 Smart Cities use digital technology to make urban systems more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. Sensors embedded in buildings and infrastructure networks can help cities incorporate renewable energy such as solar power, or save energy by turning streetlights on only when a road is in use. Sensors, smart cards and digital cameras feed real-time data into integrated management systems, and better data and analytic technologies can inform decision-making and improve urban management. The smart city infrastructures and management systems used in the new cities in Gujarat, provided by global firms like IBM, Cisco and Bechtel, are expensive.

Hopefully, the government of India will more clearly detail its vision of a smart city in the Indian context in the policy document it is expected to issue soon. Singapore, a leading proponent of smart city planning and development, recently sought clarity on the Indian government’s concept of a smart city. While East Asian models centre on physical infrastructure and environmental management systems, European models emphasize soft infrastructures and the quality and mode of urban living. Rio de Janeiro, a winner at the World Smart City Expo in 2013, focused on governance, enhancing coordination between departments and improving crisis response. Within India and globally, there are examples of cities that have incorporated low-cost and ground-up smart technologies to improve public services, map informal systems and foster public participation. India should look not just to China and Singapore for inspiration, but to Latin American cities that have been a major source of urban innovation in recent years. Technical parameters should be driven by problems they address and how they will contribute to meeting the needs and aspirations of local citizens as well as potential investors. Employment generation, environmental and social criteria, governance and public participation should not just be window-dressing, but must be taken seriously. Unless they are, the hundred smart cities will be merely a hundred real-estate projects.

It is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of people living in Indian cities will touch 843 million. To accommodate this massive urbanization, India needs to find smarter ways to manage complexities, reduce expenses, increase efficiency and improve the quality of life. India plans 100 new smart cities and will develop modern satellite towns around existing cities. Another 500 cities will get infrastructure development Government of India has allocated `142 billion (USD 2.4 billion) for housing for all by 2022, `60 billion (USD 1 billion) for Smart Cities project in Budget 2015-16.

Benchmarking of the city on a globally competitive basis, good governance and rendering civic utility services, at its very best, can be some of the hallmarks of ‘sustainable ‘Smart cities’ in the new era. The new innovations being put forth and built around the Smart city framework should now include eco-city, eco-town, eco-village; and last but not the least, ‘aerotropolis’.

In 1997, the Smart Cities World Forum predicted that there would be 50,000 smart cities across the world by 2007. While this vision never materialized the hype about smart cities hasn’t gone away and there are now an abundance of smart city conferences, rankings, newsletters and consultancies. Investment in smart cities is also rocketing. According to Navigant Research the market for smart cities was worth $8.8 billion in 2014. A review for the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) by Arup, the engineering, planning and consulting firm, predicted a global market for smart city technologies and services worth $408 billion by 2020.


Dr. A.N. Sarkar

Ex-Senior Professor (International Business) & Dean (Research), Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, 3& 4 Institutional Areas, Jasola (Sarita Vihar), New Delhi-110076 -

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