What’s a smart city? 

In a context marked by dwindling resources and the climate emergency, smartcity must respond to many issues, each prioritizing differently. 

What is a Smartcity? Top 5 Smart Cities - Sheet1

The management of specific resources that includes water, energy savings, sustainable development, economic development, security, well-being, local democracy, integration of populations, transparency, and innovation (via technology or using existing techniques, etc.) is all of the issues developed and finding very varied illustrations in the many cities that consider themselves to be innovative. 

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Therefore, the smart city has a variable definition depending on the cultures and questions posed by the territories; it is a concept that adapts to the local urban context because it is not defined by its solutions but by the objectives it seeks to achieve. 

Building a smart city means optimizing living together by coordinating specific goals and limiting harmful environmental impacts.

The smart city exists thanks to the inclusion and cooperation between different actors, who pool their ideas, expectations, skills, and means to optimise cities. 

These actors can be companies and industrialists, who create new business structures, invest in projects, and are a source of integration of technological innovation in daily life. 

To implement these innovations and a digital transition in the territories, the private sector needs the backing and cooperation of the public sector, like the state, local authorities, or even the European Union.  

These factors can be at the origin of modernisation projects and contribute to financing a private initiative or even bringing players into contact.

The third major category of smart city actors comprises citizens and associations who are users of public and private services and can reflect on cities’ spatial and technological improvements. The participation of citizens, city dwellers, and workers is valued to take advantage of collective intelligence. In addition, the collaboration between all the system actors is fundamental in the adhesion to the smart city project and its deepening.

There are six areas of action around the Smart City proposed in 2007 by Rudolf Giffinger.

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the city of future_©https://www.monclick.it/

The intelligent environment

It brings together the ecological notions of the city, air quality, and sustainable management of resources thanks to new economic models (more collaborative and respectful of the environment) and new forms of housing (eco-district, etc.).

Intelligent governance | Smartcity 

  • IOT and E-government 
  • Open Data transparency  

Shared governance allows us to get out of silo policies to move towards real transversality with the citizen’s return to the city’s heart. More recently, Open Data access policies and online civic initiatives have encouraged the development of these Smart Cities.

The smart citizen

  • Open Society 
  • Creativity
  • Education Level 

A smart city is an individual who is heavily involved in the management of the city, whether from the design of a project to its completion. Territories must integrate a “citizen-centric” approach where everyone will have their place without the social and/or digital divide.

The smart economy | Smartcity 

  • Productivity  
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation 
  • Interconnection of Territories

 This pillar consists of creating and promoting innovative ecosystems by developing ideas around the concept of the Smart City to become an attractive and pioneering city on the national scene or worldwide. 

Smart living 

  • Safety
  • Health
  • Culture

Smart living brings together a set of conditions related to available infrastructure but also the well-being of citizens (education, culture, security, and connected housing). 

Smart mobility | Smartcity 

  • Multimodal access 
  • Development of slow transport mode 
  • Connected Infrastructure

Smart mobility is currently the most developed pillar of so-called smart cities. 

It is characterized by facilitated international and local accessibility to the city and the development of an innovative, safe, and sustainable urban transport system.

Connected tools to promote the development of smart cities

Urban laboratories (City Labs, Urban Labs, etc.)

These workplaces bring together local authorities, universities, private companies, start-ups, etc. They allow the creation of synergy between actors and the interaction of diverse and varied skills around new projects, the setting up of innovative events in the territory, and the adoption of agile and innovative methods to carry out many projects beneficial for the development of the Smart City. The user is at the heart of the procedures of these laboratories.

The Internet of Things (IoT) 

Its Mainly driven by technology; Smart Cities need connected citizens and infrastructures. The Internet of Things, based on the interaction between connected objects using sensors, is an integral part of developing this type of city. It is estimated that more than 25 billion connected objects will be worldwide by 2020. They will be worn by citizens and interact with other sensors placed in streets, buildings, car parks, public transport, etc. ., to improve the well-being of city users.

Intelligent networks (“Smart grids”) | Smartcity 

Smart grids are systems capable of intelligently recording the actions carried out by consumers/users and producers of resources (electricity, gas, water) to maintain an efficient, economic, durable, and safe energy distribution. In this sense, intelligent grids are directly linked to the development of the Smart City since they make it possible to simultaneously improve the consumption of resources and the citizens’ budget.

Here are the Top 5 smart cities in the world according to Smart City Observatory, an organisation that produces the annual globally recognised Smart City Index report.


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  • The goal is to achieve net-zero emissions.
  • Develop a services ecosystem to support decarbonisation
  • Sustainability: squeezing value from waste

Zurich | Smartcity 

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  • It’s voted the most pedestrian-friendly city through an application called “Zürimobil
  • Online platform for residents
  • Smart building management systems


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Oslo_©Rénovations et Travaux
  • Free public charging with renewable energy. 
  • Becoming a fossil-free city by 2030
  • All public transport will be electrified by 2028
  • Norway plans to ban gas car sales in 2025

Taipei City

Taipei City_©Kayak
  • Narrowing the gap between rural and urban
  • Building the smart city through the Smart City Wheel framework
  • Smart street illumination 

Lausanne | Smartcity

  • Building eco-neighborhoods
  • M2, Switzerland’s first fully automatic metro


IoT Industriel Blog. (2020). Smart City: Quels impacts de la transformation digitale ? [online] Available at: https://iotindustriel.com/applications/smart-city/smart-city-quels-impacts-de-la-transformation-digitale/

‌Devinci Executive Education. (2018). Quels sont les acteurs d’un projet de Smart City ? [online] Available at: https://executive.devinci.fr/quels-sont-les-acteurs-dun-projet-de-smart-city/‌

Monclick. (n.d.). Cosa vuol dire Smart City? Ecco cosa rende ‘intelligente’ una città. [online] Available at: https://www.monclick.it/magazine/cosa-vuol-dire-smart-city-ecco-cosa-rende-intelligente-una-citta

CIO. (n.d.). Singapore to spend US$1 billion in smart city initiative during 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/219740/singapore-to-spend-us1-billion-in-smart-city-initiative-during-2019.html

House of Switzerland. (n.d.). Les ‘Smart Cities’ suisses, un produit d’exportation. [online] Available at: https://houseofswitzerland.org/fr/swissstories/science-education/les-smart-cities-suisses-un-produit-dexportation.

Les Horizons. (2019). Oslo, comment la ville est devenue capitale verte européenne en 2019 ? • Les Horizons. [online] Available at: https://leshorizons.net/oslo-capitale-verte-europe-2019/

KAYAK. (n.d.). Taipei City Travel Guide | Taipei City Tourism. [online] Available at: https://www.kayak.com/Taipei.19888.guide

24 heures. (n.d.). Ville de Lausanne – Supprimer les moteurs à essence dans les bateaux de loisirs? [online] Available at: https://www.24heures.ch/supprimer-les-moteurs-a-essence-dans-les-bateaux-de-loisirs-616058071234