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What is a "Smart" City?

Axis Communications

Despite the global smart city hype, with daily headlines about new smart city projects, cities competing to be the smartest and governments around the world investing billions in smart cities, I frequently hear someone say “But what is a smart city?”.

Today, many of us turn to Google to find quick answers, and when googling this specific question, one of the first results is from Wikipedia, which currently summarizes a smart city as “A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.”

Another online dictionary defines a smart city as “A developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government.”

There are a wide range of definitions for “what makes a smart city”. As the diagram below shows,  there are a lot of potential factors that can contribute to a city being considered “smart” and the below list is not exhaustive, a little searching online and you will find several similar diagrams each with a slight tweak on the smart city ecosystem.

Source: ADTELL Integration

No universal definition

India is one of the countries that has taken a national approach to smart cities. The government in India has chosen a humble, objective approach when answering this delicate question by stating “The answer is, there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people. The conceptualization of Smart City, therefore, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents.” (Source: Smart Cities Mission)

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Andrea Sorri

Andrea Sorri helps put the 'smart' in Smart Cities for Axis, where he is responsible for key market segments, including Government & Critical Infrastructure & City Surveillance. A ten year veteran of Axis, he is based in the company's Lund, Sweden headquarters but has also worked in Cyprus, Malta and Israel.