[IEEE Xplore] Readings on Smart Cities -- [Editorial] Vol. 1, Issue 1, Dec. 2014

Understanding Smart Cities

By: Rosaldo J. F. Rossetti


Urban development has experienced a paradigm shift as we entered the 21st century, and the quest for smarter cities has become a priority agenda with the direct participation of the industry, policy makers, practitioners, and the scientific community alike. The 2008 financial crises, the exodus from rural areas and smaller villages contributing to a greater influx and densification of larger urbanisations, as well as environmental and sustainability concerns have posed enormous challenges to municipalities all over the globe. With much of the state-of-the-art information and communication technology (ICT) and infrastructure being installed, Smart Cities are undoubtedly a reality! However, the concept is still in the process of maturation and still lack proper formalisation. In this first editorial of Readings on Smart Cities, we have selected three papers to shed light on the general idea and help us better understand the concept of Smart Cities.

Celino and Kotoulas [1] motivate the theme in their short editorial for a special issue of IEEE Internet Computing Magazine devoted to Smart Cities. Authors identify the problems resulting from the rapid urban growth and analyse the importance of smart cities so as to meet the demand for appropriate measures to mitigate recurrent problems in large urbanisations. They define Smart Cities from the perspective of Internet computing, present a concise discussion on main challenges, and propose directions to the effective implementation of the concept. Their presentation of papers in their special issue sheds light on how Internet computing technologies can be practically applied to effectively leverage the implementation of smart cities.

Ren and Sans [2] consider Smart Cities to be complex ecosystems, and discuss on appropriate ways to devise a conceptual model of such a perspective. In their view, citizens and businesses demand, consume and evaluate a wide range of services such as transportation, public safety, utilities, healthcare, education, social services, among others. Cities are then complex ecosystems that rely on multiple stakeholders and core systems to provide wide-ranging services for citizens and businesses. Authors carry out a literature review on modelling approaches with focus on realising how to model city ecosystems so as to leverage proper understanding and transformation of the cities. They conclude proposing a holistic and integrated approach to modelling the whole business of the city, along with its constituent parts and dependencies among them.

Finally, Chourabi et al. [3] also review the literature within a wide spectrum of disciplinary areas to identify critical factors influencing the conceptualisation and implementation of smart cities. They identify eight of such factors, namely management and organisation, technology, governance, policy context, people and communities, economy, built infrastructure, and the natural environment. In their perspective, these factors form up the basis of an integrative framework that can be used to examine how local governments are envisioning smart city initiatives. Authors discuss each of these factors in more detail and propose an integrative framework to explain the relationships and influences between them and smart city agendas.

Mitigating the problems generated by urban population growth is crucial as cities and megacities originate new kinds of concerns. The three selected papers try to better understand the concept of Smart Cities, identifying problems, challenges, and trends in their effective implementation. Authors agree on the conceptual comprehensiveness of a smart city as a large organic system, connecting many subsystems and components, orchestrated and behaving in intelligently coordinated ways to which ICT is the natural ground. They also share the opinion the concept of smart cities is still emerging, and the work of defining and conceptualising it is in progress.

Good readings!


IEEE Xplore References

  1. I. Celino and S. Kotoulas, "Smart Cities [Guest editors' introduction]," in IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 8-11, Nov.-Dec. 2013.
  2. G. J. Ren and J. Sanz, "An Integrated Approach to Transforming the City Ecosystem," 2011 Annual SRII Global Conference, San Jose, CA, 2011, pp. 501-505.
  3. H. Chourabi et al., "Understanding Smart Cities: An Integrative Framework," System Science (HICSS), 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on, Maui, HI, 2012, pp. 2289-2297.


Access to articles is complimentary to members of the IEEE Smart Cities Technical Community for a period of 30 days. Please subscribe to receive our selected articles each month via email.