Foreword: Special Issue – Highlights of the 2020 IEEE International Smart Cities Conference (ISC2 2020)

Written by Larissa Paredes Muse

The 6th edition of the IEEE International Smart Cities Conference (ISC2) was held from September 28th until October 1st, 2020. ISC2 is the flagship technical IEEE Smart Cities event, where worldwide recognized specialists in the field share their research findings on the latest trends, technologies, and solutions for Smart Cities. This year, the main theme of the conference was aligned with the major worldwide challenges that the world is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the theme of the conference was “Smart Cities Solutions to New Challenges, Including a Pandemic.” Although this was the first time that the IEEE International Smart Cities Conference was held virtually due to safety reasons, the conference was a huge success, featuring several tutorials, keynotes, panels, and workshops, as well as numerous research talks and exciting discussions during the four-day event.

In this Special Issue of the IEEE Smart Cities eNewsletter, distinguished conference organizers of the 6th edition of the conference, as well as specialists who participated in the event, share their insights regarding the conference’s theme and online format. Accordingly, this issue is devoted to the scientific community’s response to the pandemic in terms of research, novel technical approaches, and engagement through virtual events.

The first article of this special issue was authored by Prof. Rolland Vida from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, who was the General Co-Chair of the ISC2 2020 conference. In this article, Prof. Vida discusses the contemporary context of virtual events and the challenges of engaging smart city specialists and the scientific community during a pandemic.

Prof. Chiara Boccaletti (from the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy) and Distinguished Prof. Loi Lei Lai (from the Guangdong University of Technology in China), Co-Chairs of the Technical Program Committee of ISC2 2020, authored the second article of this issue. This article provides an overview of the IEEE ISC2 2020 conference, with special focus on how the scientific and technical community perceives the pandemic and its inherent relationship with Smart Cities to drive novel research on impactful technologies.

The third article that is hosted in this special issue was written by Prof. Sara Paiva from the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo in Portugal. Prof. Paiva was a conference attendee and volunteer in ISC2 2020. Her article provides an interesting perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on urban mobility. Specifically, the article discusses the challenges and opportunities in this sector during and after the pandemic.

Finally, as the ISC2 2020 conference Publicity CoChair, I contributed the last article of this issue which aims to highlight how smart city solutions can significantly aid municipality authorities to engage multiple stakeholders during a pandemic to take necessary actions. This article is based on interviews of three well-recognized experts with a related background.

Concluding the foreword to this special issue, I would like – on behalf of the IEEE Smart Cities Community –to take the opportunity to announce the theme of the next IEEE ISC2 Conference, which is “Smart Cities - Post-pandemic vision and challenges.” The 7th edition of the conference will be organized by the new General Chairs, Prof. Soufiene Djahel from the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Prof. Yinhai Wang from the University of Washington, USA. The dates of the conference will be September 7-10, 2021, and the event will be held virtually. For more information, please visit

This article edited by Aris Gkoulalas-Divanis

For a downloadable copy of the May 2021 eNewsletter which includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center.

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Larissa Paredes Muse is a multiskilled architect and urban planner specialized in city digitalization. With a Master’s degree in Urban Engineering, her research addressed the transformation of the street lighting sector in the context of Smart Cities. In the last year, Larissa spoke in over 30 events worldwide, sharing her knowledge with more than 1,800 attendees in three different languages. In Brazil, she collaborated in an inter-ministerial cooperative initiative with over 200 smart cities experts, which elaborated the Brazilian Directive for Smart Cities, published last year. As a member of IEEE, she is involved in various activities, including conference organization and standard development projects. She is the Marketing Committee Chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Community and the vice-chair of the IEEE P2784 (Smart City Planning and Technology Guide) Standard project. In addition, she is a consultant at Quanta Technology, working in Climate & Resilience projects for the energy sector.

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