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Smart Cities: Concepts and Challenges

Cities should renew themselves, becoming strategic "hubs" for a more and more sustainable local development. Rethinking cities means rethinking spaces, functions, and activities in terms of economic and productive competitiveness, whereas:

“The city, from its very origins, has always been the place where new ideas were conceived and new model were experimented with”

[Ferrilli, G., Sacco, P.L. & Tavano Blessi, G., “Cities as Creative Hubs: From Instrumental to Functional Values of Culture-led Local Development”, in: L. Fusco Girard, T. Baycan & P. Nijkamp (Eds.), Sustainable Cities and Creativity. Promoting Creative Urban Initiatives, Ashgate, 2011, Farnham, pp. 245-270.]

The vision of "smart city" represents an idea of planning and management of urban environment in a sustainable fashion to improve the citizens’ quality life. Cities are smart /intelligent if they invest in human and social capital, as well as in traditional communications infrastructure (transport) and information and communication technologies (ICT). This could support a sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, using a participatory management approach.

The Smart Cities challenge is now running
Generally smart cities are expected to be based on the introduction of next-generation power supply control systems, which incorporate IT technologies into grid management to maximise efficiency, resilience and system security.

[Hubertus von Grünberg “A global perspective: Power Solutions that can drive sustainability in smart cities”, March 23, 2013, retrieved from

http://www04.abb.com/global/seitp/seitp202.nsf/c71c66c1f02e6575c125711f004660e6/989889d449e637e7c1257b39004b9c12/$FILE/ABB_Smart_cities_CDF2013_Beijing.pdf].

Thus Smart Cities exploit Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to make both their infrastructure and their public services more interactive, more accessible and more efficient.

Among the sectors in which smart cities will introduce a transformation of the current traditional cities are: transportation and mobility, supply management, natural resources consumption, public services (in particular, medical and educational services), citizens’ participation, business centres with high added value and government, public safety/security, amongst others.

ICT is an enabling factor of the smart city, as it is able to bring new knowledge and intelligence. The management of the complexity which characterises the cities and regions requires the development of a network as information infrastructure. A system of physical infrastructures and a system of software infrastructures will form a network of communication objects which will be able to acquire information from the environment and execute commands remotely at the service of the people.

Cities are not only connected through conventional physical infrastructures, but also through modern digital infrastructure and virtual connectivity, thanks to the introduction and large-scale penetration of ICT in all sectors of the economy.

Cohen G. and Nijkamp P., E-governance and Cyber images of cities, in: I. Johansson (ed.), Entrepreneurship and development-local processes and global patters, Uddevalla, University West, 2006.

One of the main challenges is the deployment of a whole infrastructure for city data collection, transmission, storage and analysis for the supply of services to citizens. ICT can support the achievement of efficient, effective and sustainable public services particularly if designed through user-centred negotiation-centric approaches with intelligent participatory management of the city by people. This can be facilitated by information and services sharing, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies development, and the development of cloud and crowdsourcing services.

In this perspective the SciCafe2.0 Platform can support and manage a strategy of sustainable social and urban innovation to plan the territory in a participatory manner.