5 Smart Cities on the Rise

In the age of digital transformation, no stone is being left unturned. “Smart” technology is being implemented in many cities around the world, in an effort to make municipal operations and processes more efficient and enable citizens to enjoy a superior, more seamless user experience vis-a-vis local infrastructure and resources.

But what makes a city try “smart” and which cities are trending with the most exciting technological innovations? Today, we’re all about the numbers. Read on to learn more.

9 criteria every smart city must meet
In order to be considered a smart city, municipalities must do more than simply deploy connectivity, sensors, and devices. They must strive to use the technology at their disposal to meet the following criteria and better city life for everyone living within its bounds:

  1. Human capital – ventures to educate and employ citizens via a vibrant hi-tech economy.
  2. Social cohesion – public cultural, tourist and recreational services to bring citizens together.
  3. Economy – promotion of a creative, entrepreneurial industry that will bring business to the city and its residents.
  4. Governance – engaging in collaborations and partnerships, in person & online to drive community engagement.
  5. Environment – monitoring systems to control pollution, enhance sustainability & more.
  6. Mobility & transportation – more efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly methods for locals and tourists to traverse the city.
  7. Urban planning – to enable functional management & aesthetic appeal, without compromising on economic and environmental sustainability.
  8. International outreach – intergovernmental agreements, policies and laws for better wellbeing, trade and more.
  9. Technology – service-oriented architecture, broadband/wireless infrastructure, computing networks and other virtual technologies for greater data processing, management, analysis, sharing and integration.

5 smart cities you should know about
The following five smart cities meet the above-mentioned criteria, head-on, in varying degrees. Some cities have spent more time and resources implementing their technologies and infrastructure, while others are rapidly catching up.

#1 – Barcelona
Barcelona is leading the smart city movement and is no stranger to implementing innovative technologies to improve the daily life of its citizens. The city has adopted both a top-down approach to urban digitization – technologically driven decision-making, as well as a bottom-up
approach – using technology to respond to the needs and demands of citizens and persons of authority.
Their efforts include the creation of platforms that make city data accessible, integrated street-level solutions, such as superblocks, L’apparkB – the city’s smart mobile parking system, and LED-based lighting and sensor system, a new orthogonal bus network and bicycle renting program (Bicing) and more. Barcelona authorities additionally actively partner with private tech companies to develop and apply digital solutions to existing urban challenges and create exciting digital business opportunities for the city and its residents.

With a municipal network of 500 km of optical fibre, sensors that monitor air quality, parking spaces and even garbage build up in trash cans, and free WiFi routed via the city’s street lamps, Barcelona continues to pioneer digital change and test new technologies for its citizens’ benefit, venturing to achieve the revered status of Smart City 3.0.

#2 – Singapore
The island-city-country of Singapore ranked first in the Global city performance index 2017 and ranks second in the Safe Cities Index 2017, thanks to the implementation of technological innovations, such as cameras, sensors and other digital devices. Singapore continues to develop and ameliorate its smart mobility, safety, healthcare and convenient administrative services.

Virtual Singapore, a 3D virtual model of the city and every element within its bounds, enables various municipal departments to identify needs and plan out projects on a smaller scale before full implementation, saving time, money and human resources. And the city’s next round of innovations, including on-demand driverless taxis, as well as strong government, academic and private-public collaborations (Launchpad incubator) seek to position Singapore as the smart city to beat.

#3 – New York City
Declared the “smartest city” in 2017, New York City has spent the better part of the past decade investing in its digital transformation. The municipality collaborates with tech giants, such as IBM, Cisco and City 24/7 to provide the city’s various authorities, as well as its citizens, with access to data, methods for energy conservation and a better quality of life. From smart lighting, smart waste management and smart water metering, to city-wide internet access and smart screens for real-time reporting and promotion, New York’s innovative economy and infrastructure is sharing the wealth, benefitting all who venture out into the magical Big Apple.

And to foster an innovative spirit among New Yorkers of all walks of life, the city holds an annual contest with thousands of dollars in cash prizes for apps that best take advantage of the city’s open data sets to improve New York living that much more.

#4 – London
London is among the world’s leading cities with respect to international outreach, human capital, innovative economies, and WiFi hotspots, but still faces some critical municipal challenges.To solve the biggest problems the city of London faces, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, called for a smart, collaborative approach to municipal operations. “We need our public services, major
universities and technology community to mobilise their resources in new ways and partner with us to make London a fairer and more prosperous place,” he declared, with exciting results.

While the city is already revered for its smart public transportation and rideshare systems, efforts towards reducing fuel emissions, smart healthcare, environmental services and more, future plans include achieving full fibre connectivity in new homes and supporting the commission of smart technology such as a ‘hyper local’ sensor network to create the world’s most sophisticated air monitoring system.

#5 – Seoul
With a population of roughly 10 million people, the South Korean capital set up the Seoul Innovation Bureau to tackle typical challenges the metropolis faced as a result of pollution, traffic congestion, limited available affordable housing and almost tremendous population growth. In just a few short years, Seoul was named the world’s first smart city (2014), thanks to its culture of citizen participation, public-private partnerships, open data policy and ventures that
boost sustainability and competitiveness through the development and integration of smart technologies within city infrastructure and activities. Three main pillars of the city’s Smart Seoul campaign include: securing next-generation ICT infrastructure, adopting an integrated city-management framework and increasing access to smart devices and education on their
use, for members of all income levels and age groups – as exemplified in the fields of healthcare, mobility and transportation.


Technological innovations are increasingly being implemented within municipal infrastructure and operations to make everyday activities simpler, more seamless and far more superior from multiple perspectives – and the above five smart cities are leading the pack. While some of these cities are newer than others to the smart city game, they are quickly catching up, making them the powerhouse municipalities to watch out for in the coming years.