The concept of smart cities encompasses the planning, designing and operating of cities in ways that foster efficiency, liveability and sustainability. Making urban areas “smart” demands both traditional disciplines like city planning and architecture (which can realize the gains of more efficient buildings and transport systems), but also new technologies such as smart grids, sensors and big data. Lastly, developing a smart city also requires collaboration with the people and companies based in the area.
Information and communications technology, big data analytics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be useful tools in facilitating smarter choices. They can lead to a more integrated management of different areas like water, electricity and transport to better prioritize investments and maximize value. Additionally, collecting data about air pollution and water flows, for example, can highlight health and environmental impacts on the list of national priorities. This can enable cities to better address the well-being concerns of their inhabitants, help to overcome general sustainability concerns, and open up to greater citizen involvement in decision-making processes.
Smart urbanism has the potential to promote a sustainable transition in cities within both emerging and established markets. In emerging economies, there is an immediate need to develop smarter cities to meet the demands of rapidly growing populations. Where needs are great and resources are scarce, smart priorities and stakeholder participation are especially crucial. In established markets, ageing systems are often deteriorating, information is rarely shared, and cities are frequently hampered by inefficacies resulting from a lack of collaboration. Information sharing and collaboration between sectors throughout the stages of infrastructure development can significantly increase efficiency and at the same time provide substantial co-benefits.
Smart urbanism entails adopting a strategic direction. By using new participatory forms of city governance and extended use of technologies and open data systems, the planning and operating of cities has the potential to become increasingly sustainable.