The world is always more Urban. The United Nations has estimated that between 2015 and 2050 the world population will increase by 32% (from 7,2 to 9,7 billion inhabitants), while the urban population will increase by 63% (from 3,9 to 6,3 billion inhabitants). The urban question is one of the main points to develop our future; In fact, for many years we have been hearing and talking about Smart City and the various recipes to approach this question. As our planet is becoming more urban, the cities must become smarter to administrate the complexity of urban life, such as overpopulation, energy consumption, resources management, environment protection, quality of life and administrative system.

In general, a Smart City is: a determined geographical space able to manage natural resources, human resources, equipment, buildings and infrastructures through the application and the potential of the new technologies to enhance the livability, workability and sustainability. However, the definitions and the conceptualisation of Smart City is still in definition, therefore, varies from city to city and depends on the level of development, resources and aspirations of the city residents.

A few years ago, a Smart City was meant to be a city that used the new smart grid and data to optimize resources and services. It was more about a digital city than Smart City and this two terms have essentially coincided for many years, particularly over the last decade. The need for more relational aspects such as governance among stakeholders, human capital, social relations, participation and involvement of people is increasingly emerging. It seems that what has been defined in recent years is that the goal of a Smart City is not simply to make a more effective city through digitalization, but to improve people’s quality of life and help economic and social growth of a territory.

Below you can find the Wikipedia’s definition of a Smart City: 

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets. These assets include local departments’ information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. A smart city is promoted to use urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services. ICT allows city officials to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Using sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analysed. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple “transactional” relationship with its citizens. Yet, the term itself remains unclear to its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations.”

The following video shows some strategies used in New York to create a Smart City through small pilot projects:



Here, you can get more information about Smart Cities NYC ’17, the first conference in New York that took place in May 2017 and addressed the theme of the intersection of technology and urban life.


Author: Stefano Anfossi

Illustration: Valentina Vezzani