IEEE P3166 Standard on Smart City Terminology

Written by Chun Sing Lai

This IEEE P3166 Standard on Smart City Terminology is sponsored by the IEEE Systems, Man, and, Cybernetics Society with co-sponsors such as IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, IEEE Industry Applications Society, IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (TEMS), IEEE Power and Energy Society.

The scope of the P3166 Standard defines terminology for smart cities, including smart city concepts across different infrastructure and systems components and used across various services at the city-scale. It can also be useful to leaders of small urban areas and larger regional-scale for shaping the environment to create shared value and to provide regulations, recommendation, guidelines, practice, and inspiration for organizations that are developing smart cities.

There is no consistent definition and agreement for smart city terms that have arisen in the evolution of smart cities development and deployment worldwide due to different stages of development for countries, availability of resources, technological advancement, and criteria for assessment.

The purpose of this standard is to provide a means to define smart city terminology so that stakeholders can use a common language when planning standards and for understanding published industrial, commercial, and technical materials.

Another purpose is to maximise the use of expertise through co-operation within societies so to encourage societies without a standards committee to develop an interest in standards activities so that smart cities development can be accomplished more efficiently. In this particular case, TEMS has a strong interest in developing carbon-neutrality-related international standards and promote them to user, industrial, and government communities. Its strength in balancing the norms of society, government, and regulatory agencies will be essential to the success of this standard as smart city is a complex, multi-dimensional, multi-objective, and multi-disciplinary subject.

There is a clear need to have this standard development. For example, to address the net-zero emission by 2050 and improve the living standard, it is believed that smart city will provide a practical and feasible solution [1]. There are many standards have been developed related to smart cities [2]. For example, IEEE P2814 - Techno-economics Terminology Working Group is developing a smart-energy-related standard. The scope of this standard is to define techno-economic terminologies used in the development, construction, and operation of renewable energy and electrical energy storage systems. It is a smart energy related standard. Also, the IEEE P2668 Working Group Standard for Maturity Index of Internet-of-things: Evaluation, Grading, and Ranking is considering different IoT-related things in areas such as healthcare, railway safety, smart grid, etc. To assess the level of development, a maturity index is introduced based on the grades of criteria.

With this consideration, it is believed that performance evaluation and comparison could be carried out in a fair, objective, systematic, and consistent manner. Also, it is possible to give comments and advice for solution improvement to maximize the return of investment and to formulate the roadmap in a more effective and scientific way to achieve the targets in a much shorter timescale.

The standard aims to provide an agreed set of working terminology to enable practitioners to better share a common understanding for smart city deployment in various countries. Some of the stakeholders for the Standard include financers, engineers, policy developers, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, city leaders, senior executives, community innovators, lawyers, doctors, practitioners, decision makers, and civil workers.

By taking this opportunity, a brief review is given related to smart city standards. In Europe, there is the Smart Cities & Communities Initiative whose objective is to make Europe's cities more efficient and more sustainable in the area of energy, transport and information, and communication technologies [3].

Various criteria to facilitate cooperation between cities are needed to be developed. Some criteria are degree of economic development, competition and innovation strength, and climatic conditions. Therefore, for cities to determine the precise level of ambition, this should be based on their possibilities and local peculiarities.

To be able to specify meaningful and effective systems to monitor, manage, and control resource use in cities, we must assess cities’ performance. It is required to develop a language to inform the objective specification of smart city. An agreed set of working terms is needed to guarantee convergence of the different discussions about the future of cities agendas, and the function of smart cities in resolving the challenges ahead, particularly resource use and management [4].

In smart cities, all structural elements of any type are connected by technology. Intuitive interaction with the environment is allowed through a smart interface with the user and the processing of large amounts of data for different purposes. For example, smart governance by participating in public life, providing transparent governance, and promoting access to public and social services; smart mobility, by facilitating local, national and international accessibility, ensuring the sustainability of the transportation system and offering highly available IT infrastructures; smart living by increasing the quality of housing, with high personal security, offering educational facilities, cultural facilities and tourist attractions; smart environment, by promoting ecological awareness and renewable resources; and smart infrastructure by integrating smart technologies into the fundamental systems that serve a city.

The mix of government, technology and business depends on the city, so even in a smart city definition, this could well be a highly location-based issue. It would be essential and important to create benchmark datasets to measure and compare smart cities performance [5]. In developing smart cities, financial models need to be careful considered as this is usually country dependent. For example, a country in Europe, USA, or China could have a very different consideration.

Reference [6] reported that on 15 November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act became law under U.S. President Biden’s signature, allocating $1.2 trillion in federal spending to strengthen the country’s digital and physical infrastructure. Needless to say, the level of expectation from that kind of smart cities will have a difference performance from smart city of a developing country.

Any readers who have an interest to join this standards development, please feel free to contact Chun Sing Lai and Qi Hong Lai for further information.  



  1. C S Lai, T I Strasser, and L L Lai, “Editorial to the Special Issue on Smart Cities Based on the Efforts of the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics: Systems, Vol. 52, No. 1, Jan 2022, pp. 2 -6, DOI: 10.1109/TSMC.2021.3128990
  2. C S Lai, Y Jia, Z Dong, D Wang, Y Tao, Q H Lai, R T K Wong, A F Zobaa, R Wu and L L Lai, “A Review of Technical Standards for Smart Cities,” Clean Technologies, MDPI, 2 (3), 290-310, 2020.
  3. Report of the Public Consultation on the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative, European Union, Brussels, 14.06.2011.
  4. Smart cities – Vocabulary, PAS 180:2014, The British Standards Institution, February 2014.
  5. Smart City Terminology, 07/08/2019. (Assessed on 8 May 2022)
  6. (Assessed on 8 May 2022) IEEE Wireless Communications, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 14-21, Dec. 2017, doi: 10.1109/MWC.2017.1600414.



This article was edited by Bernard Fong

To view all articles in this issue, please go to June 2022 eNewsletter. For a downloadable copy, please visit the IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center.

CSLai photo
Chun Sing Lai (S’11, M’19, SM’20) received the B.Eng. (First Class Hons.) in electrical and electronic engineering from Brunel University London, London, UK, in 2013, and the D.Phil. degree in engineering science from the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, in 2019.  He is currently a Lecturer with the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Brunel University London. From 2018 to 2020, he was an UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Research Fellow with the School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. His current research interests are in power system optimization and data analytics. Dr. Lai was the Publications Co-Chair for both 2020 and 2021 IEEE International Smart Cities Conferences (ISC2) and a Technical Programme Chair for IEEE ISC2 2022. He is the Vice-Chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Publications Committee and Associate Editor for Frontiers in Energy Research (Smart Grids) and IET Energy Conversion and Economics. He is the Working Group Chair for IEEE P2814 and P3166 Standards; Associate Vice President for Systems Science and Engineering of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society (IEEE/SMCS); Chair of the IEEE SMC Intelligent Power and Energy Systems Technical Committee. He is an IET Member and a Chartered Engineer.

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