What is a Smart City?
The term “smart city” has been defined in a variety of ways. The vocabulary varies as well, with “smart” being replaced by phrases like “intelligent” or “digital” instead. Some definitions also use the word “community” in place of the word “city.” The term “smart city” can be viewed as an ambiguous term because it isn’t always applied consistently (Albino et al., 2015). By “effectively integrating physical, digital, and human systems in the built environment to offer a sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive future for its residents,” the British Standards Institute defines smart cities (BSI, 2014).
However, as most smart city-related projects arose from bottom-up experiences related to specific problems, having a generalizable definition becomes difficult (Dameri 2017). A smart city is a city that uses advanced technology and data analysis to improve the quality of life for its citizens and enhance sustainability. Here are some definitions of the term “smart cities”:
- According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), a smart city is “an urban ecosystem that leverages information technology and data analysis to improve the efficiency of services, enhance the quality of life of citizens, and drive economic growth.”
- The European Union defines a smart city as “a city seeking to address challenges by integrating information and communication technology (ICT) and other means of data analysis to improve the quality of life for its citizens, the sustainability of urban systems, and the efficiency of urban services.”
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) defines a smart city as “a city that uses information and communication technologies to enhance quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to improve contact between citizens and government.”
- According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a smart city is “a complex, integrated ecosystem of people, processes, and technology that promotes sustainable economic growth, quality of life, and environmental sustainability.”
Despite the lack of a standard comprehensive definition, there is a common thread among the various characterizations of a smart city, which is the use of technologies to solve quality-of-life-related problems (Galati 2018), as well as the importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) resulting from its evolution from the concept of information city.
The history of Smart Cities goes many years back. As early as the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of smart cities was initiated when the US Community Analysis Bureau employed databases, aerial photography, and cluster analysis to gather data, allocate resources, and generate reports. These efforts aimed to direct services, mitigate disasters, and alleviate poverty, culminating in the first generation of smart cities.
Following this, technology providers implemented the first generation of smart cities to comprehend the influence of technology on daily life. Subsequently, the second generation of smart cities emerged, exploring how smart technologies and other innovations could yield integrated municipal solutions. Then, the third generation of smart cities evolved, which did not rely solely on technology providers and city leaders but instead established a model involving the public and promoting social inclusion and community engagement.
Albino, V., Berardi, U., & Dangelico, R. M. (2015). Smart cities: Definitions, dimensions, performance, and initiatives. Journal of urban technology, 22(1), 3-21.
British Standards Institution. (2014). Smart City Framework–Guide to Establishing Strategies for Smart Cities and Communities.
Dameri, R. P., & Dameri, R. P. (2017). Smart city definition, goals and performance. Smart City Implementation: Creating Economic and Public Value in Innovative Urban Systems, 1-22.
Galati, S. R. (2018). Funding a smart city: From concept to actuality. Smart Cities: Applications, Technologies, Standards, and Driving Factors, 17-39.