Smart Cities. The Current State of Knowledge

Seminar Paper, 2021

24 Pages, Grade: 1,7



Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

List of Appendices

1 Introduction

2 Literature Search Process

3 Literature Review
3.1 Involved Actors
3.2 Smart dimensions
3.2.1 Smart Economy
3.2.2 Smart Mobility
3.2.3 Smart Governance
3.2.4 Smart Living
3.2.5 Smart People
3.2.6 Smart Environment
3.2.7 Surveillance and privacy
3.3 Discussion

4 Identification of gaps

5 Conclusion

6 References


Executive Summary

As the topic of smart cities gets more current than ever and multiple smart city project examples can be identified, this seminar paper discussed the current state of knowledge of smart cities in the literature.

This paper aims to address political players and anyone who is interested in the topic of smart cities. It will be discussed what is known about smart cities, what topics are looked at mostly and what areas have not been analyzed deeply yet, so that eventually all relevant topics to look at when trying to build a smart city are written out.

For that, first, current smart city projects are mentioned and a typical morning rou­tine in a future smart city is shown. In the chapter of the literature search process, it will be explained that the literature search was conducted with the keywords “smart city/cities” on EBSCO, ULB and Google scholar and then checked for qual­ity standards.

The literature review starts with analyzing the actors involved in the process of cre­ating smart cities, showing that so far, mostly big companies push the idea of smart cities into politics and implement smart city projects together. It is assessed that integrating citizens and universities in this process to form a so-called quadruple helix would be smarter, though. This is being followed by conducting a deeper re­search in the seven dimensions Smart Economy, Smart Mobility, Smart Govern­ance, Smart Living, Smart People, Smart Environment, and Surveillance/Privacy. It could be analyzed that our future way of living together will consist of a lot of technology, including sensors and Artificial Intelligence. With that, smart cities will experience a new form of governance, travelling, and housing. Environmental as­pects become more important than ever, being part of all dimensions, really. On the other hand, it becomes clear, that the term “smart city” is still vague and means something different to every author. Besides, psychological and privacy issues are still research gaps that need to be further analyzed. Also, it could be shown that mostly Western researchers deal with the subject of smart cities.

List of Figures

Figure 1: Dublin Dashboard

List of Abbreviations

AI Artificial Intelligence

ICT Information and Communications Technology

IoT Internet of Things

IT Information Technology

UK United Kingdom

US United States of America

VHS Vehicular Social Networks

List of Appendices

Appendix A: Literature analysis table


According to current forecasts, two-thirds of the world's population will live in cit­ies by 2050. Cities play a prominent role worldwide in social and economic aspects and have a major impact on the environment (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015). Cities are therefore confronted with the constant need to improve energy consump­tion, transportation, buildings, public space, and so on. All this points to the need for “smart” solutions that ensure economic prosperity and social well-being for the citizens of cities. In the literature, this concept is called the smart city concept.

A typical daily morning routine in a smart city could be envisioned as wakening up in a sustainably built home, taking a shower in recycled industrial water waste, making a webcam appointment with the doctor and ordering groceries on a flat screen while having breakfast. After that one would get in the electrical car driving to the central congestion zone from where a three-wheeled automated driving utility would drive to the workplace (Hollands 2015).

Examples are numerous. Entire cities based on smart principles are currently being built in Asia and the Arab world by giant IT companies, engineers and construction firms, like the Toyota Woven City in Japan (Toyota 2021a, 2021b), while smart initiatives have become commonplace in the U.S., Europe and Scandinavia over the last 15 years (Hollands 2015). Examples include “NEOM The Line” in Saudi Ara­bia that is supposed to be “A revolution in urban living” with no cars, clean energy and lots of nature and technology (N.N. 2021). Abu Dhabi is building their so-called “Masdar City” (UAE 2021), Dubai envisions “Dubai 2050” (Dubai Art Works 2021), China is creating “Xiong'an New Area” (Taylor and Chapman 2021), Berlin is soon building the “Schumacher-Quartier” as part of the Tegel Project (Tegel Projekt GmbH 2021), showing that some smart city initiatives are extensions of existing cities and other are made “from scratch” (Carvalho 2015).

This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of the academic research and identify gaps in the literature. For that, smart cities' stakeholders and seven dimen­sions will be analyzed and followed by a critical discussion. Next, the existing gaps what came to light during the research, will be shown.

2. Literature Search Process

The keywords that were used for the research were “smart city” and “smart cities”, so that a holistic picture of the current topic is visible. Using the VPN of the uni­versity of Münster to assure the fullest available access, these searching keywords were entered on EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, and the ULB disco search and eArti- clesplus, leading to 6991 results. As a thorough literature review was published by Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico (2015), this seminar paper only considers papers that have been published since, to do a follow-up literature review. This seems quite reasonable anyway since the topic of smart cities is being discussed a lot in the literature and keeps evolving, making it useful to concentrate on the most recent published papers. The use of the filter of 2015 and newer reduced the sample size to 5874. After that, the filter of “only academic papers” was used to minimize this amount down to 2679. Of that, only the 2487 articles in English were considered. Next, the list was sorted by relevance. Some papers were directly excluded as they did not fulfill the demands of a scientific research paper like “Spachecke Italienisch: Dallo smartphone alla smart city: varizioni semantiche di un mondo smart.”

To assure objective quality standards, ranking of the JOURQUAL ranking were added wherever it was possible. Since journals from different directions were con­sidered and most articles to this topic were published in non-business journals, most are not listed on the JOURQUAL ranking which is why common standards of the 2-year impact factor, the h-index and SJR index were consulted and individually checked for quality thresholds. Research on this showed that journals with an im­pact factor of 3 or more are considered “good” (Science Journal), an h-index above 20 as “good” (Paperpile 2021) and a SJR above 1 as above average in the certain subject (Briscoe Library 2020). Therefore, articles from journals not achieving all three of these thresholds were excluded (Resurchify 2021; SCI Journal; SCImago Lab; VHB e.V.). Also books and pamphlets were not further considered as well as articles with a too-depth focus on the technical IT side of smart city projects. During the reading process further literature was found that underwent the same procedure as mentioned above. To cover a wide range and different viewpoints, only one ar­ticle from each author was analyzed in this short literature overview. 20 papers were finally considered.

3. Literature Review

The introduction of “smart cities” into the urban and popular lexicon is a relatively recent phenomenon, popularized by an aggressive marketing campaign by IBM in 2010, accompanied by the efforts of several other large multinational companies seeking to generate a new urban market for their technologies and services (Datta 2018; Engelbert, van Zoonen, and Hirzalla 2019; Hollands 2015; Kitchin, Maalsen, and McArdle 2016; Shelton, Zook, and Wiig 2015; Williamson 2015). The term “smart city” is being used by many authors, all referring to a future vision of cities, but with different aspects and angles. Shelton, Zook, and Wiig (2015) call the term ‘smart city' “a somewhat nebulous idea” (p. 13) and Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico (2015) call the label “smart city” a “fuzzy concept” and that it is used in ways that are not always consistent (p. 4).

While the terms “urban living”, “smart urbanism” or “ubiquitous city” (Curran and Smart 2021; Ho 2017) are being used relatively identically to “smart city” (Jong et al. 2015), other terms like “intelligent city” or “digital city” only concentrate on the technological perspective do not include the “people” component (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015). In the past, also the terms “wired city”, “digital city”, “cyber city”, “sentient city”, “green city”, “resilient city” or “knowledge city” have been used (Jong et al. 2015; Kitchin, Maalsen, and McArdle 2016) with different focuses and definitions which will not be discussed further in this paper. It can be said though, that these terms rather refer to more specific aspects while the range of topics or “smart city” is more diverse and often includes the concept of the other terms (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015; Jong et al. 2015).

While the definition of smart cities is somewhat open and contested in the literature and among stakeholders, smart city advocates generally agree that a smart city is one that strategically uses ICTs and data analytics to improve existing city services and create new services, engage citizens, promote sustainability, solve urban prob­lems, create a better quality of life, and stimulate innovation and grow local econ­omies (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015; Ho 2017; Kitchin, Maalsen, and McArdle 2016). The definition used for this seminar paper comes from Ferraris, Santoro, and Pellicelli (2020) and it is: “a smart city is an urban center that aims to connect its physical, information technology (IT), social and business infrastruc­tures to power the collective intelligence of the city” (p.1260).

3.1.Involved Actors

The smart city is currently being constructed as a solution to many urban problems, including crime, traffic congestion, inefficient services, and economic stagnation, and promises prosperity and a healthy lifestyle for all (Hollands 2015). This is the vision that is mostly being promoted from the industry side, especially from global high-tech companies. This approach is not altruistic, as when policy makers and citizens adopt these visions they will be the ones with huge profits (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019; Hollands 2015). Until 2013, IBM has already generated $3 bil­lion from 6000 clients, only 5 years after they started the “Smarter Planet” initiative. Other ICT companies include Cisco, Intel, Siemens, Microsoft, Fujitsu and Alibaba (Curran and Smart 2021; Söderström, Paasche, and Klauser 2014; Williamson 2015). The risk of corporate dominance in smart-urbanism efforts is that such “so­lutions” are overly technocratic and packaged as one-size-fits-all, stifling the crea­tivity of local actors and institutions. Most authors therefore agree on the ideal form of a so-called triple or even quadruple helix, compared to a double helix consisting of governments and industry - an approach that is being promoted by the ICT com­panies and leaves out ordinary people to participate (Engelbert, van Zoonen, and Hirzalla 2019; Hollands 2015; Rabari and Storper 2015; Schiavone et al. 2020). By combining all the city stakeholders representing governments, universities, and businesses, along with citizens and civil society organizations, collective intelli­gence is created which is necessary to drive smart city development and face the complexity that this socio-technological transformation process brings with (Schiavone et al. 2020). Also, creativity and innovation are supported and lead to more competitive and attractive local environments (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019; Ferraris, Santoro, and Pellicelli 2020). Ferraris, Santoro, and Pellicelli (2020) argue that the public side should take the role of orchestrator of the ecosystem, promoting and stimulating open initiatives and entrepreneurship, even though they often lack “skills and openness” meaning they need consulting services (p. 1269).

3.2. Smart dimensions

To further analyze different aspects of smart cities, different dimensions will be considered separately in the following. A segmentation hat is broadly accepted by the literature (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015; Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019; Caragliu, Del Bo, and Nijkamp 2011; Giffinger et al. 2007; Marsal-Llacuna,

Colomer-Llinas, and Meléndez-Frigola 2015) and that was originally created using the Urban Audit database of the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) are the six dimensions: Smart Economy (competitiveness), Smart Mobility (transport and communication infrastructure), Smart Governance (public and social services and citizen participation), Smart Living (quality of life), Smart People (social and hu­man capital) and Smart Environment (natural resources). Thus, in the following the literature on smart cities will be analyzed according to these dimensions, added by the topic of surveillance and privacy.

3.2.1. Smart Economy

Angelidou (2015) analyzes that smart cities help businesses become innovative, productive and agile. This is also supported by other authors who state that smart city policies with technology parks stimulate innovation (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019; Kraus et al. 2015), creativity, entrepreneurship (both Appio, Lima, and Paroutis (2019), and technological level (Schiavone et al. 2020) which in turn in­creases the city's stock of knowledge (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019). For that to work it is not sufficient, to develop human capital, cities need to retain and attract talent by making life there fun and attractive (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019).

Critic on the way the future way of working come from Burns and Andrucki (2021): They argue that smart cities continue to rely on forms of reproductive labor that are invisible in current research and public discourse. They introduce the term “digital care worker” to capture a new category of reproductive workers in the smart city - volunteer and low-paid data producers and analysts, such as those who host hacka- thons, who are typically expected to do so out of love for their cities and towns.

3.2.2. Smart Mobility

The increasing number of vehicles on urban road networks has led to serious road traffic problems that affect travel time, travel costs, fuel consumption, and air pol­lution (Amer et al. 2019). With Internet of Vehicles and autonomous vehicles, which are connected and enable data sharing to improve traffic comfort and safety, solutions for improving traffic flow and reducing accidents can be provided (Amer et al. 2019; Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019). Also, the need for car ownership would be reduced with autonomous cars. In the short-term, VSNs like Google's Waze app can help to better manage traffic with accurate real-time information (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019).

Studies have shown that the construction of urban superblocks, like implemented in Barcelona, which limit passage and accessibility for motor vehicles and which prioritize instead pedestrians reduce air and noise pollution, and the volume of city traffic by 21% (Charnock, March, and Ribera-Fumaz 2021). Cities like Paris and Nice are reducing the number of car lanes in major traffic corridors to make room for bicycles and pedestrians (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019). Other suggested solutions include walkability initiatives that can be complemented by other short­distance ecological mobility solutions, such as electric bikes or scooters, shared through a free-floating and pay-per-use business model (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019) and higher quality and more efficient public transportation that responds to economic needs (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015).

3.2.3. Smart Governance

The term “Smart Government” or “e-Government” refers to the idea of policy mak­ers that can make use of big data and ICT infrastructure to come to decisions as well as establishing modern ways to interact with its citizens (Appio, Lima, and Paroutis 2019; Ho 2017; Rabari and Storper 2015; Williamson 2015). To be able to effectively manage a smart city, Marsal-Llacuna, Colomer-Llinas, and Meléndez- Frigola (2015) ascertained the need for an aggregated or synthetic index to visualize monitoring results from a set of indicators. One example for that is shown in the Dublin Dashboard, an interactive visualization of gathered data from different as­pects of the city (Kitchin, Maalsen, and McArdle 2016).

Figure 1: Dublin Dashboard

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: (Maynooth University 2021).

The authors argue that dashboards out “reductive, atomizing complex, contingent relationships into relatively simple visualized measures that obscures the multidi­mensional nature of cities” (Kitchin, Maalsen, and McArdle 2016, p. 96) and there­fore acts as if a city could “be known, planned and controlled through data processes and algorithms alone.” Instead, cities are not rational and linear, but complex and contested systems with culture, politics, and inequalities. Williamson (2015) states that “in the smart city, the ‘digital governor' acts at a distance by subtly regulating the actions of citizens” (p. 10).

On the other hand, it can be argued that with open governments using technology, governance can be more efficient, and drive progressive urban change (Angelidou 2015). Also, Ho (2017) argues that smart governance entails a closer, more effi­cient, and effective way for citizens to relate to government, for government to en­gage citizens and for how cities are governed (see also Williamson (2015)). Exam­ples for Smart Governments can be found in India (Datta 2018) or Barcelona.

3.2.4. Smart Living

Smart Living refers to the future of houses and apartments we live in and the way, how technology can help us being more productive, sustainable, and happy (here and in the following: Appio, Lima, and Paroutis (2019). It should also reduce vul­nerability, improve safety and have positive environmental impacts. Using modern technology, municipalities can optimize waste collection, sorting and recycling by deploying smart sensors in garbage cans, trucks and recycling facilities that relay real-time data on the quantity and quality of municipal waste in each neighborhood. In the consumer space, artificial intelligence algorithms can learn the habits of home occupants and optimize heating through networked thermostats (see also Ho (2017)); security can be improved through networked cameras; the ubiquity of smart refrigerators can help individuals, supermarkets and food manufacturers bet­ter regulate inventory and potentially reduce food waste.

3.2.5. Smart People

Many smart city programs emphasize the idea of “smart people” or “smart citizens.” The basic idea is that the economic, cultural, and political functioning of smart cities depend on smart people who can contribute to the monitoring and management of the city itself (Williamson 2015).


Excerpt out of 24 pages


Smart Cities. The Current State of Knowledge
University of Münster  (Marketing Center Münster)
KnowIT! Economy in times of radical social and technological changes
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Smart City, Smart Cities, Smart Economy, Smart Mobility, Smart Living, Smart Governance
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Anonymous, 2021, Smart Cities. The Current State of Knowledge, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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