smart city

Contributor(s): Ed Burns

A smart city is a municipality that uses technology to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve the quality of government services.

Adoption of the smart city concept is being driven by emerging technologies and trends such as automation, machine learning and the internet of things (IoT). The push to create smart cities is also being spurred on by environmental concerns such as using energy efficiently and social concerns such as citizen safety.


Theoretically, any area of city management can be incorporated into a smart city initiative, including such things as water usage, infrastructure design, emergency response, parking spot availability and snow removal. For example, some city planners and managers are using smart sensor technology and advanced data analytics tools to monitor, analyze and optimize the way traffic flows on city streets and ensure that public transportation supply meets user demand.

Data democratization is a key component of the smart city concept. Advocates of smart city projects maintain that making large municipal data sets available to citizens will increase civic engagement and enable residents to develop new, practical ways to use the data a city collects. Opponents worry that city managers will not keep data privacy and security top of mind, exposing the data that citizens produce on a daily basis to the risk of misuse.

This was last updated in February 2016

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Do you expect smart cities to become the norm? Or will many cities be held back by budget limitations and other issues?
Just as with any infrastructure project, there will always be areas that are left behind. New build will have the latest technology incorporated into it - such as sensors to manage indoor climate - but older areas, especially those with predominantly lower incomes, will struggle because of funding. I'm afraid we will end up with technology slums where there is little ambition to deal with a lag in technology. On top of that, I think there are other issues that might be higher on the agenda for a lot areas (such as health, housing, roads...) all of which are competing for limited funds. 
There will be no single standardized "norm" for sure. For decades, even mass transit hasn't become a norm.
Allow me to offer a working definition for the smart city agenda "Specialized Sensors Collect the Big Data that gets passed on through the *Cloud Analytics*, after negotiating Cyber-Security, in order to *Compose* an Appropriate A.I. responses in the form of Actuators" That's after reading and digesting dozens of definitions from as many sources and the *all* harbor these commonalities. It's a bit wordy ,but hits all of the bases of concern


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