As world urbanization continues to grow and the total population expected to double by 2050, there exists an increased demand for intelligent, sustainable environments that reduce environmental impact and offer citizens a high quality life. A smart city brings together technology, government and society to enable the following characteristics:

Smart Cities
  • a smart economy
  • smart mobility
  • a smart environment
  • smart people
  • smart living
  • smart governance


Growing Urbanization
World Urbanization Prospects 2011
Percentage of urban population and agglomerations by class size, 2011


World Urbanization Prospects 2025
Percentage of urban population and agglomerations by class size, 2025
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division: World Urbanization Prospects, the 2011 Revision. New York 2012

There is a worldwide trend toward Smart Cities as shown by the following:

  • Half of the world population is living in cities in 2013
  • Half of the population of Asia will be living in cities by 2020
  • Half of the population of Africa will be living in cities by 2035
  • Population in cities is expected to grow from 3.6 Billion to 6.3 Billion by 2050.
  • Over 50% of urbanization involves cities of less that 500K people

While this opens up significant opportunities in economic growth, it also creates many challenges to be addressed including:

  • Population explosion
  • High cost of living
  • Rising levels of pollution
  • Increased crime rates
  • Massive investment in infrastructure requirements -- $10 Trillion by 2025
  • Exponential growth of data
  • Potential cultural clashes

One approach being pursued in many parts of the world is to increase the awareness of the urban environment and to enhance the interaction with its inhabitants. This is typically characterized as the evolution towards Smart Cities. We believe "Smart Cities" includes such things as:

  • Smart Buildings
  • Smart Living
  • Smart Transportation
  • Smart Energy
  • Smart Communications
  • Smart Networks
  • A Self-Aware Digital Hub
  • Environmental Awareness (i.e. changing weather conditions; human defined changes)

Technologies associated with Smart Cities are numerous and include those available now and those in development. Examples include:

  • Intelligent lighting
  • Smart building controls
  • Demand response
  • LED lighting
  • Solar panels
  • Fuel cells
  • Wireless charging for automobiles
  • NFC
  • Facial recognition
  • Transportation sensors
  • Wind turbines
  • Intelligent Buildings
  • Micro and Macro GMDs
  • Low power semiconductors
  • An “RF-like” fabric
  • Integrated transportation
  • A connected self-aware environment that includes but is not limited to weather changes, traffic control, crowd sourcing strategies, medical alerts, etc.

Based on this information, we see an opportunity for IEEE to assist municipalities in managing this transition to urbanization. This would include raising awareness of the benefits and downsides of technology and help guide the appropriate uses of technology.

We plan to organize local events in targeted cities with international experts in the specific areas of focus.

  • Criteria for selection of these cities will include but not be limited to the following:
    • The city must have a concrete plan and funds to become a Smart City
    • The local constituency welcomes IEEE involvement
    • The local authorities have interest in sharing experiences at the international level and becoming a path leader
    • There is a local IEEE Chapter and Section to take local responsibility and support the project
    • There is a local university interested in working the Smart Cities space as well as some form of local industry commitment


Guadalajara was the first city to be selected. The Guadalajara Kickoff Workshop was held on 29-30 October 2013 in Mexico. For details, please view the preliminary program.

Event Chair: Victor M. Larios Rosillo
Organizing Chair: Ruben Barrera-Michel

Guadalajara was selected for the following reasons:

  • Guadalajara has established an organization called the Ciudad Creativa Digital (CCD) to drive the transition to a Smart City.
  • The Smart City effort will be focused on the historic city center.
  • This effort is part of a comprehensive strategy for the revival and regeneration of the main city area.


IEEE Smart Cities Initiative Working Group

Working Group Lead:

  • Gilles Betis

Steering Committee:

  • Stefano Bregni
  • Gustavo Giannattasio
  • Yinhai Wang
  • Rosaldo Rossetti
  • David Alan Grier
  • Roberto Saracco


External Partners



McLuhan Foundation