Together with the unprecedented rate of urbanisation, new practices and trends have sought to manage the complex challenges of urban systems. A prominent example is the ‘smart city’ concept, which is present and widely discussed in literature and international policies. Although there is a lack of definitional accuracy, interpretation, and application, in addition to its underlying self-promotional inclinations; in recent decades the smart city concept has been one of the most influential trends and has tried to shape projects and cities relative to their efficiency and sustainability.
Worldwide, the implementation of the smart city concept seems to have a fragmented record, using atomistic approaches. Nonetheless, some cities have managed to successfully operate in a smarter way to solve some of the urban challenges of the 21st century. In this issue of IGLUS Quarterly, we take a more critical view of smart cities by exploring the multi-scale applications of the concept in different contexts around the world through six articles that together, highlight potential successes and misconceptions of the smart city approach.
In the first article, Matthias Finger explores the ‘hype’ behind the smart city concept and the actors responsible, essentially determining some of the confusion around it. Finger also conveys his views on the potential and future dimensions of its application; integrating services and generating significant efficiency gains across all infrastructures.
In the following article, Renard Teipelke explains how the current use of smart urban data has not lived up to the expectations regarding urban planning and management tools, particularly in a developing context. The paper discusses the risk of not adequately positioning ‘smart city promises’ within a particular setting and municipal capacities.
In the third article, Oriol Estela takes us through the evolution of the ‘The Strategic Metropolitan Plan of Barcelona’ (PEMB) and the importance of substantial reform in order to keep up with today’s daunting urban challenges. The paper focuses on the ability of the Strategic Plan to continually adapt to upcoming challenges, to form new alliances, and to foster citizens’ involvement to
achieve shared goals.
The next article, by Alokananda Nath, takes a critical view of India’s urban governance systems through the Smart Cities Mission project. The paper explains India’s unique view towards implementing the smart city concept, which has a focus on people and infrastructure instead of technology. In unison, it’s explained how the project also has an ill-conceived approach to its implementation that hinders governance networks.
In a similar regard, Thejaswini Jagannath explores India’s Smart Cities Mission, but from a different perspective. The author dives into the impact and importanceof a well-planned city regarding the adaptation of the smart city approach, particularly the importance of public space.
In the final contribution, Çağrı Kızıltaş and Umut Alkım Tuncer touch on a more traditional application of the smart city approach while commenting on the importance of implementing intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to improve the city’s efficiency and road safety. At the same time, they also denote the importance of stronger regulatory reform and inter and multi-departmental collaboration to gain substantial improvements..
We hope you enjoy these six articles and invite you to join the discussion at iglus.org. If you feel that there are innovative practices underway in your city/region and you would like to contribute to an upcoming edition of IGLUS Quarterly, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.