Smart City

Economic development and quality of life

  • Integrated and planned strategies
  • Widespread use of new technologies in various industries
  • Sustainability as a strategic cornerstone
  • Infrastructure on the network
  • Advantageous of ICT technologies

Smart City

Smart Cities in urban planning and architecture are a set of urban planning strategies aimed at optimising and innovating public services so as to link the physical infrastructures of cities “with the human, intellectual and social capital of those who live there," thanks to the widespread use of new technologies for communications, transport, the environment and energy efficiency, in order to improve quality of life and meet the needs of citizens, businesses and institutions.

Sustainability in general is seen as an important strategic component of the intelligent city. The move towards social sustainability can be understood in the integration of participatory techniques, such as online consultation and co-design of service changes, in order to encourage the participation of users as citizens in the process of democratisation of decisions regarding future performance levels. Environmental sustainability is important in a world where resources are scarce and where cities are increasingly basing their development and income on tourism and natural resources, exploitation of which must ensure the safe and renewable use of the cities’ natural heritage. This last point is tied to the business that has created the development, as the skilful balance of measures promoting growth, on the one hand, and the protection of the weakest in society, on the other, is a necessity for sustainable urban development.

The operation of cities and their competitiveness nowadays are not only dependent on its physical infrastructure, but also increasingly on the availability and quality of the infrastructure dedicated to communications (ICT) and social participation.

In other words, a city can be defined as smart when investments in the human and social capital as well as the traditional (transport) and new (ICT) infrastructures fuel sustainable economic development and a higher quality of life, coupled to the skilled management of natural resources through some mode of participatory government.

From the point of view of infrastructure, it is important that resources are available "on the net" to improve economic and political efficiency and enable social, cultural and urban development. The term infrastructure encompasses broadly speaking the availability and provision of services for citizens and businesses, making extensive use of information and communication technologies (fixed and mobile telephony, IT networks, etc.), highlighting the importance of connectivity as an important development factor.

From the economic point of view, a city is considered "smart" if it takes advantage of the opportunities offered by ICT to increase local prosperity and competitiveness. It is therefore argued that, for the creation of cities with features to attract new businesses, which in turn is associated with local planning in the region to which the city belongs, such creation must in the same way be developed intelligently following the same approaches as for Smart Cities.

From the social point of view, note the role of human and relational capital in urban development. In this sense, a Smart City is a city whose community understands how to learn, adapt and innovate, with particular attention to achieving social inclusion of residents and citizens’ participation in urban and extraurban planning. Initiatives to improve the management of the city itself, such as the planning of timescales and schedules, are fundamental.

From the environmental point of view, the need for sustainability looms large, a very important aspect in a world where resources are scarce and where cities increasingly rely on the availability of tourist and natural resources. In a Smart City, in particular, their exploitation must be accompanied by the safe and renewable use of natural heritage. Including initiatives aimed at reducing emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.

From the technological point of view, let us consider real-world examples of the technologies that a Smart City could possess. For example, we might consider a network of sensors capable of measuring different parameters for efficient city management, with data provided wirelessly and in real time to citizens or the competent authorities. Citizens could then monitor the concentrations of pollution in every street in the city, triggering automatic alarms when the level exceeds a certain threshold. Similarly, city administrations can optimise irrigation of parks or street lighting. Or cities can detect leaks in the water network, map noise levels or set up automatic notifications from rubbish containers when they are nearly full.

For road traffic, they can set traffic light cycles to manage car traffic dynamically. In the same way, drivers can get real-time information to quickly find parking spaces, saving time and fuel and helping to reduce road congestion. For public transport, it is possible to install real-time monitoring and notification systems for bus routes at the stops. These technologies are already in use in many of our cities, which greatly helps citizens and municipalities in running their daily life.