Different types of smart cities need different strategies

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have identified four different types of smart cities. Their findings could help city planners to develop more effective urban policies and plans.

Smart cities use new information and communication technologies to solve urban problems such as housing, transportation and energy. But the term itself remains “more of a buzzword than a clearly articulated program of action”, said Krishna Jayakar, a professor of telecommunications at Pennsylvania State University.

For this reason, Jayakar and his colleagues conducted a comparative analysis of 60 smart cities worldwide to identify different types or categories of smart cities with the aim of helping city planners identify and emulate models that resemble their own socio-economic circumstances and policy goals.

Their results reveal four major types of smart cities.

The first is what they call the Essential Services model. These are cities that are characterized by their use of mobile networks in their emergency management programs and by their digital healthcare services. These cities, which include Toyko and Copenhagen, tend to have good communication infrastructures and put their money into a few well-chosen smart city programs.

The second type is the Smart Transportation Model. These cities are densely populated and face problems with moving goods and people within the city. Their initiatives focus on controlling urban congestion through smart public transportation, car sharing and/or self-driving cars. Examples of these cities are Singapore and Dubai.

The third type of smart city is the Broad Spectrum model, which emphasizes urban services, such as water, sewage and waste management, and deploys technological solutions for pollution control. These cities tend to have a high level of civic participation, as can be seen in examples such as Barcelona, Vancouver and Beijing.

The fourth type is the Business Ecosystem model. These cities use ICT to drive economic activity, foster high-tech business and prioritize digital skills training. Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Cape Town belong to this category.

“Our findings can provide city planners with information on specific projects and templates implemented in the field by other planners,” said Jayakar.

Image credit: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr

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