What does smartness mean for a city?

With massive investment being made in building smart cities around the world, it is important to question if it is worth building them. To answer this question, we first need to understand what does smartness mean?

Smart city is a multi-dimensional concept that came into the limelight in the early 2000s. The first few attempts to define the concept focused on managing city functions by applying information technology. These efforts steered the profit making mechanism for the tech companies and did less on the city development front. However, recent efforts to develop a smart city have widened their scope to include sustainability, quality of life, and services to the citizens through technology.

Smart cities around the world have similar goals in moving towards human empowerment through technology, however, the perspective of smartness varies from one place to another. Smartness depends on various factors such as the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents in addition to responding to the most pressing issue that the city is facing. For instance, a proposed smart city in India appears to be slightly different from those existing in the developed nations or found in the smart city literature. The Government of India initiated Smart Cities Mission (SCM) in 2015 to build 100 smart cities in India. The mission activities focus on promoting cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment, and application of ‘smart’ solutions.

To know more about how an Indian smart city is different from an existing one, please check out https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7973837


Image source: Gupta and Hall (2016), Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318672966_Measuring_Smart_Cities_in_India

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