cities – the phrase itself doesn’t tell us much, as the word “smart”
can mean quite a few different things. In principle, however, just as the next
level of mobile phone in the time of digitalisation is a smartphone, in cities,
the next step is a smart city.
encyclopaedia Wikipedia describes a smart city as “an urban area that uses
different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) such as sensors to
collect data and use insights gained from that data to manage assets, resources
and services efficiently. “
designates a smart city as “a city that makes optimal use of all the
interconnected information available today to understand better and control its
operations and optimise the use of limited resources.”
words, a smart city strives to improve its inhabitants’ efficiency and quality
of life with the help of digital technologies. These technologies usually
include information and communication technology – ICT. A smart city can
improve its functions and services and accelerate economic growth through data
One of the essential
technologies for smart cities is the Internet of Things (IoT). Data collected
from devices connected over the Internet of Things (IoT) are stored in the
cloud or on servers, enabling efficiency improvements in the public and private
sectors and more significant economic benefits and improved lives for the
things, smart cities use programming interfaces (APIs), artificial intelligence
(AI), cloud computing, control panels, machine learning, communication between
devices, and wireless mesh networks (WMN).
have a vast amount of technology at our disposal to digitise a particular city.
Still, it’s mostly about how we use that technology and not how much technology
to which a city is “smart” can be determined with a view at various
factors: infrastructure based on technology, environmental initiatives,
efficient and functional public transport, solid and advanced city development
plans, and people who live and work in the city and use its resources.
combination of different technologies, we can develop solutions that will
improve the above factors. One of the essential solutions is smart parking, enabling
residents to find a parking space faster and digitally pay the parking charges
(card, digital wallets, etc.).
example is a smart traffic management system, which would allow transport flow
monitoring and automatic adjustment of traffic lights to reduce the possibility
of congestion. In addition, digital traffic control would allow for various
improvements in other areas, such as the dimming of public lighting when the
road is empty, thus saving electricity.
Evolution of smart cities
in recent times
years, smart cities have received quite a bit of criticism for over-promising
and under-delivering, as such projects are expected to hold great promise, but
not enough of it has materialised. However, due to a combination of new
government funding and what experts say is a shift in perspective about how to
approach these projects—from tech-first to resident-first—smart-city experts
told us they’re optimistic about the prospects in 2022, reported at Morning
seeing now is that you can have connectivity, electrification, and autonomy.
You don’t have to just pick one,” Karen Lightman, executive director of the
Metro21 Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “We can, with
some catalyst investment money from the federal government, encourage the
private sector to come in, and jobs can be created. I really feel like 2022 is
Europe, some cities have invested quite a bit of money in digitisation. In the
Spanish city of Barcelona, Wi-Fi infrastructure and the Internet of Things
(IoT) have been well developed, making it one of the most connected cities in
various sensors hidden on city streets that can measure noise, traffic,
pollution, congestion and even the number of selfies that people post in a
specific market. They can be found on public lighting poles, rubbish bins, and
in the asphalt of parking lots.
investment saved the city about €52 million on water, generated €45 million in
annual parking revenue and created 47,000 new jobs. Cisco predicts the
digitalisation of Barcelona will bring cumulative economic benefits worth €870
million by 2026.
development of computers and smartphones, the issue of privacy has also evolved.
Social networks as such have given this issue a whole new meaning. Understandably,
the development of smart cities and the spread of technology in this area would
again shake the foundations of individual privacy or, in this case, an
inhabitant of a smart city.
Quite a few
projects have been discarded precisely because of privacy issues. Sidewalk
Labs, a subsidiary of giant Google, embarked on a project in 2019 to track
mobility patterns to show how people move through a city.
The city of Portland, Oregon, was working with Sidewalk Labs to develop a plan on the movement of people through city streets, which would be crucial in helping officials plan mobility investments, reduce traffic jams, and improve the quality of life of residents.
two years later, the project was shelved because they disagreed on data
protection and privacy for residents. According to reports, the Portland
authorities allegedly requested access to population data, but Sidewalk Labs or
later Replica did not agree. “We believe better insights should not come
at the cost of personal privacy,” the company said.
to the issue of privacy, of course, there is also the issue of cyber-security.
It is known that hacking can also occur where there is an internet connection,
so cyber security is even more critical in smart cities. Above all, it is
necessary to ensure that smart cities are protected from cyber-attacks, hacking,
and data theft while ensuring that the reported data is accurate.
must also have confidence in the security of smart cities, which means that government,
private sector enterprises, software developers, device manufacturers, energy
providers and network service operators must work together to deliver
integrated solutions with core security objectives.
goal can be described as availability. Data needs to be available in real-time
with reliable access. This is the only way to make sure it performs the
function of monitoring various parts of smart city infrastructure.
integrity. The data must not only be available, but it must also be accurate.
This also means safeguarding against external manipulation.
managed by the smart city is extremely sensitive, so confidentiality is paramount.
Data needs to be kept confidential and safe from unauthorised access, which can
mean using firewalls or anonymising data. Anonymisation is a data processing
technique that removes or modifies personally identifiable information.
fundamental goal in data protection, however, is accountability. System users
need to be accountable for their actions and interactions with sensitive data
systems should there be any problems. It is necessary to keep user logs, which
record who accesses the information.
cities and setting up smart systems for urban and rural areas can bring many
benefits to people worldwide. In this way, we can improve the quality of life and
ensure sustainability and the best possible use of limited resources.
Author: Marko Želko
Keywords: Smart cities, digitisation, Europe, life.
article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European
Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of
digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the
and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union
institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec
Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or
opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information