The number of urban residents worldwide is growing by nearly 60 million people a year. The urban population is expected to double by 2050, when seven out of every 10 people will live in cities. As the population rises, poverty, inequality, unemployment and the challenges of energy management are also expected to increase. Innovative solutions are needed to meet these demands and make these cities attractive places to live, today and in future.
One potential solution is the concept of the “smart city,” where initiatives are designed to fuse current infrastructures with digital technology. There are many definitions for what exactly comprises a smart city. In a study conducted for the European Parliament earlier this year, RAND Europe defined a smart city as “a city seeking to address public issues via ICT (information and communications technology)-based solutions on the basis of a multi-stakeholder, municipally based partnership." One or more of the following six characteristics or dimensions should be part of any smart city project or initiative:
There are many cities across Europe that are trying to implement these types of schemes. Our review of the smart city projects across Europe found that 51 percent of cities with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants could be identified as "smart" according to the above definition. Interestingly, only 48 percent of these smart cities are actively implementing these initiatives; the remainder are at earlier stages of development.