Foreword: Special Issue on Data Analytics for Smart Cities

Written by Qi Hong Lai

In the last decade or so, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data have transformed not only organizations, but markets and society as a whole in the planning, operation, and management of day-to-day activities. During this time, we have seen the promise of data-driven cities aiming to promote technologies that can produce all-win solutions in terms of social, environmental, and economic impact. Ref. [1] reports the use of wireless communication and smart meters for healthcare.

Healthcare is an essential domain within the context of smart cities, and internet-based communications for medical workers is now widely used. This is essential for elderly and/or disabled patients who may not be able to travel but do have inexpensive and simple internet access to take advantage of video-call consultations.

However, this approach based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart meters has its challenges. Ref. [1] proposes and discusses a top-level smart health with smart meter system, including its design flowchart, and the component and module diagram. The data exchange module consists of a historical information database and weather information, while the data integration module deals with data checking and data prepossessing, such as cleaning for quality control. The decision-making module produces a list of recommendations, based on risk assessment techniques, for healthcare workers and doctors to act on. With this in mind, privacy concerns have been raised, sparking a variety of regulatory issues. More work on standards development is needed [2].

The recent digital transformation has enhanced smart city implementation. However, as mentioned, this too comes with opportunities and challenges. We still lack “best practice” guidelines and frameworks that show both the possibilities and the limits of AI and data in cities together with lessons learned from case studies. This special issue aims to identify some of the gaps by advancing our understanding of the potential and realities of data analytics and big data related to our cities.

In this special issue, we have four articles.

The first article, titled “Anticipation of Web 3.0 for Future Smart Energy Systems,” is by Zhebin Chen and Zhao Yang Dong of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

This article proposed a new way to develop future power systems. Aside from technological issues, there will be legal challenges with Web 3.0. In the era of centralization, all information is proceeded by a central administrator which facilitates effective oversight of the use and management of information. However, if the Web 3.0 mode is disseminated in a decentralized form, data is separately owned by individuals and becomes non-trackable. Consequently, it will be much more difficult to deal with the illegal holding of non-compliant information. Data recording is of immeasurable importance to the overall operation of the system, and any improper use may cause incalculable losses for prosumers, utilities, and society.

The second article, titled “Computing and Analytics for Demand-side Resources in Smart Cities,” was written by Yishen Wang, Xiao Liang, and Fei Zhou from State Grid Smart Grid Research Institute Co. Ltd., China.

This article presents several applications that were developed to improve situational awareness and operational decision-making for smart energy. These are based on a combination of data-driven and knowledge-based methods to handle data with improved performance. Crowd intelligence as an analytic tool could model the gaming decisions among different energy participants and has shown some promising results. Some future work has been suggested such as privacy computing techniques, including federated learning. This can become a tool to address new issues and protect user privacy when information is shared amongst multiple parties.

The third article is titled “The Role of Wireless Sensor Networks for Pervasive Smart Grids Communication” and was contributed by Viktoriya Mostova and Alfredo Vaccaro from the University of Sannio, Italy.

In this article, the authors discuss emerging solutions to address environmental sustainability, system reliability, cost minimisation, grid congestion and the mix of generations in the context of a smart grid. To achieve effective deployment of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs)-based communication systems through pervasive data sharing, the acquired data needs to be shared with all sensor networks so that both utilities and consumers can extract valuable information for decision-making. An international standard IEC 61850 has been reported for integrating WSNs with substation automation components. There are some concerns, however, regarding information security and privacy issues. The smart grid could be subject to external cyber-attacks, which could result in the loss of confidential information. This calls for further investigation.

The final article, titled “Application of 5D SmartES platform in a Smart City” was contributed by Ren-Zuo Wang, et al. The authors are from the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering, Taiwan, the National Applied Research Laboratories, and the University of Tokyo, Japan.

For a sustainable smart city, it is necessary to ensure operational stability during an earthquake. 5D is a smart digital space. The article introduces the concept of 5D for smart cities and describes a successfully developed 5D SmartES platform for intelligent decision-making. This platform integrates the digital space with dynamic and static data, establishes a relationship between a three-dimensional (3D) model and surroundings, overlays selected scenes with the real world, and interacts with 3D models. The platform was used in Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City (SSGES-City) Zone C for indoor environmental monitoring and power consumption information.

The four articles above provide timely information on the concepts, methods, techniques, domain, and case studies on the need to develop smart cities with economic, social and environmental sustainability. Good directions have been suggested to the readers and will no doubt be instrumental in dealing with the challenges ahead of us in building smart cities.




  1. Q H Lai and C S Lai, “Healthcare with Wireless Communication and Smart Meters,” IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, June 2022, 10 pages, DOI: 10.1109/MCE.2022.3181438. (Early Access)
  2. IEEE P3166 Standard for Smart Cities Terminology, (Accessed on 21 October 2022)




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

Qi Hong Lai photo
Ms Qi Hong Lai is working towards her Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Cell Biology in Health and Disease at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK. Her current research interests are in RNA biology, bioinformatics, biotechnology and smart health.

Past Issues

To view archived articles, and issues, which deliver rich insight into the forces shaping the future of the smart cities. Older eNewsletter can be found here. To download full issues, visit the publications section of the IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center.