In the last 15 years, the concept of a Smart City has become a focus of public
attention as an answer to emerging needs and challenges of urban areas. Fueled
by the potential of ICT (information and communication technologies), cities
around the world are adopting a variety of strategies to improve economic
competitiveness, sustainability, social and capital attractiveness and most
importantly quality of life for everyone.
There is a wide spectrum of strategies that
cities can put forward to become smarter but it is not always that obvious to select
those that fit their specific needs and ambitions. Decisions are often the results of
important trade-offs and identifying the right balance requires cities to be fully
aware of their forces and weaknesses.
There seems to be an agreement that additional literature is still welcome with
respect to Smart City processes and strategies, namely to provide more guidance
to cities in-search for answers in their complex task of developing their smart
This White Paper builds on existing literature by providing
insights on the development of smart cities collected through in-depth interviews
with 5 key smart cities highlighted at the Montreal ITS World Congress 2017:
- Columbus (USA),
- Copenhagen (Denmark),
- Christchurch (New Zealand)
- Montreal (Canada)
What is a Smart City?
Being labelled as a Smart City has definitely become a current trend among public
organizations. However, a relevant question to ask is whether this labelling has the
same meaning for all those organizations and cities around the world. The
literature review and study of the 5 case studies are used to define the components
of a Smart City.
Here's what a few leaders had to say:
“A Smart City is one who is responsive to his community needs in real time,
engages with the community and enables the community to engage with it.”
“A Smart City is a city that makes data driven decisions to enhance its residents
and visitors’ life.”
“A Smart City is a city which is very good in using data but a Smart City is also a
city which is using the infrastructure that they always added. So, this is not only
about the 0 and 1 but it is also about the physical structure of a city.”
Montreal - "A Smart City is a community that uses technologies and social innovations to
improve the life quality of all his citizens."
Singapore - “A smart nation is one that honors the technologies to improve the lives of the
While the definition of a Smart City still varies by the objectives and administration leading the way, a few consistent themes are prevalent.
- Community Impact - how can we improve the quality of life of our citizens?
- Technology Role - how can new technology change or improve our operations?
Check our the full smart city research and white paper from ITS America to read more about each of these communities have begun to re-define their role in the development of ways to plan the future of our communities.