Defining smart infrastructure. Smart technical, social, and green infrastructures in cities and at the federal level and beyond

Term Paper, 2022

11 Pages, Grade: 2,3



1 Introduction

2 Definition of terms
2.1 Definition of smart
2.2 Definition of Infrastructure
2.3 Definition of Smart Infrastructure

3 Smart city infrastructure
3.1 smart technical city Infrastructure
3.2 smart social city Infrastructure
3.3 Smart Green city infrastructure

4 smart country infrastructure
4.1 Smart technical country infrastructure
4.2 Smart social country infrastructure
4.3 Smart green country infrastructure

5 Potential risks
5.1 Critical infrastructure
5.2 Privacy and data protection

6 Conclusion


1 Introduction

Infrastructures form the backbone of the economy „Hentea (2021, p. 215) “and are also crucial for the ecological and social orientation of todays and tomorrow’s economy and society „Bock et. al (2020, p. 6) “.

A well-planned and developed infrastructure enables people to live life as we know it today. This is especially true for the people of the industrialized nations „Monstadt (2018, p. 2650-2651) “. The importance of infrastructures, especially technical and social infrastructures, is usually only realized when they are disrupted due to extraordinary events „Getzner (2017) “. This can be triggered by disruptions within the urban infrastructure as well as disruptions of the infrastructure at the federal level. In particular, the disruption of international infrastructures, such as disruptions in gas supply or disruptions in maritime transport, can be mentioned. The blockade of the Suez Canal by the damaged Ever Given led to supply bottlenecks throughout Europe.

The digital transformation is also making its way into the development of the infrastructures „Hartmann et al. (2018, p. 7) “. It offers many new possibilities that increase the comfort and enhance the quality of life. But it also harbors dangers. The data security of people and governments, as well as people’s privacy, can suffer from increasing digitalization „Gómez et al. (2019, p. 139) “.

In this paper, the term “smart infrastructure” will be defined. For this purpose, the term is broken down into its two individual parts in the first chapter of this thesis. These are then considered and defined separately from each other. In the further course the terms are connected again and a definition for the term “smart infrastructure” is derived.

The second chapter deals with smart infrastructure in cities. The author gives examples of smart technical, social, and green infrastructures in cities and explains them by using examples.

Smart infrastructures at the federal level and beyond is addressed in the third chapter. The focus is on the consideration of national and international transport routes, disaster control and superregional power supply.

In addition to increasing the quality of life and comfort, smart technologies also harbor new potential dangers for regional, national, and international infrastructures. In the third chapter, the author discusses possible dangers that can arise from and for smart infrastructures.

2 Definition of terms

In this chapter, the terms “smart” and “infrastructure” are considered and defined separately. Finally, the two definitions are used to derive a definition of the term “smart infrastructure”.

2.1 Definition of smart

Technologies that exhibit a form of intelligence and at the same time sustainability are referred to as smart „Hartmann et al. (2018, p.11) “. Smart technologies include sensors, information and communication technology, robotics and artificial intelligence „Hartmann et al. (2018, p. 6) “.

Smart technologies should enable and promote the autonomy of processes. One example is the use of sensor technology in refrigerators. Sensors detect the fill levels of various products and can order replenishment as needed.

The following definition is used for smart objects:

Smart technologies are technologies that can react autonomously to change by means of sensor technology and artificial intelligence

2.2 Definition of Infrastructure

As already mentioned, infrastructure is the backbone of the economy and crucial for its current and future ecological and social orientation. The term “infrastructure“ can be divided into three areas.

- Technical infrastructure

Technical infrastructure enables the functioning of modern society as we know it. It includes supply and disposal, transport and information and communication technologies. Supply and disposal are understood to mean water supply, wastewater disposal, energy supply and waste disposal.

The area of transportation includes road, rail, air and sea transport.

Information and communication technologies represent the generic term for telecommunications, Internet, radio and television „Monstadt (2018 p. 2650) “.

- Social infrastructure

The social infrastructure can be divided into the areas of material social infrastructure (e.g., schools, fire departments, hospitals, etc.), personnel social infrastructure (e.g., social workers, kindergarten teachers and police officers) and institutional social infrastructure (e.g., standards, laws, and guidelines). The social infrastructure is subject to public responsibility but can also be offered and provided by non-public institutions and companies „Monstadt (2018, p. 2185-2186) “.

- Green infrastructure

Green Infrastructures refers to natural and semi-natural areas that together form a strategic network. However, it should be noted that not every green space can be directly counted as green infrastructure. It must be ensured that the respective green space is an integral part of a biotope network. This is the case, for example, if a green space within a city ensures that the air quality increases, and it can also absorb excess rainwater from surrounding areas „EU (2014, p. 7) “.

The following definition of infrastructure is used as a basis for the rest of the paper.

Infrastructure is defined as facilities, institutions, structures, and systems that provide the necessary economic underpinnings for the functioning of society

2.3 Definition of Smart Infrastructure

A basic distinction can be made between the terms “smart city” or “digital city” and “smart country” and “digital country” “Habbel et. al. (2014, 6.)”. Both are using the new information and communication systems to digitize existing and new infrastructure projects.

An example of this is sensor-based disposal. In this case, the containers are no longer emptied in a weekly pattern, but based on information about the fill levels of the containers „Van Nisseljooij (2019) “.

In the remainder of this paper, we will use the following definition for smart infrastructure:

Smart infrastructures are infrastructures that use modern information and communication systems, such as sensor technology and artificial intelligence, to autonomously control execute processes.

3 Smart city infrastructure

After defining the terms “smart infrastructure” in the previous chapter, this chapter deals with smart infrastructure objects in cities. In the following, we distinguish between smart technical, smart social and smart green infrastructure. Figure 1 shows smart technologies that can be used in cities.

This image has been removed for copyright reasons.

Figure 1 Smart City „ADTELL Integration “

3.1 smart technical city Infrastructure

Many new technologies are referred to as “smart”, the use of the term has now become a trend, which means that it is no longer possible to directly differentiate which products and services are really “smart” in the sense of the above-mentioned definition and which are only referred to this way for advertising purposes.

The basic prerequisite for the use of smart technologies in cities in general, is a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure. Only through new 5G high-speed networks, which enable very fast data transmission, can communication between and with smart systems take place „Hartmann et al. (2018, p. 23) “. Examples include smart waste management, smart parking solutions and smart traffic management.

Smart parking solutions are now standard in many cities. Here, modern sensors record the utilization of parking spaces and parking garages. The information on occupancy rates is then made available on digital signs and apps for car drivers, among others „Gómez et al. (2019, p. 112) “.

Smart traffic management solutions include camera-based systems for monitoring and coordinating emergency vehicles, as well as intelligent traffic light control „Gómez et al. (2019, p. 100) “.

3.2 smart social city Infrastructure

The social infrastructure in cities includes hospitals, fire departments, schools, colleges, and universities. They form the basic social framework of any bigger city.

Social infrastructures can use cameras and sensors to respond to pre-emergencies and emergencies in a preventive manner. Thus, events can be detected while they are still developing, and effective measures can be taken „Van Nisselrooij (2019) “. For example, fire can be fought preventively. Sensors in the buildings can detect overvoltage and rising temperatures. This would allow fire departments to respond to events before the fire starts. Another example of the use of smart technologies in social infrastructures is the use of cameras, which medical professionals can use to assess the severity of injuries to accident victims before emergency personnel arrive and thus better coordinate the response.

The availability of smart solutions for the provision of information and the continuous availability of public services can also be understood as a part of the smart social infrastructure. This includes chat bots that can solve users problems independently and make appointments. Figure 2 shows the social infrastructures of a smart city.

This image has been removed for copyright reasons.

Figure 2 smart social infrastructure „Krylov (2015) “

3.3 Smart Green city infrastructure

A large part of the world’s population lives in cities „Walther (2014, p. 5) “. It is therefore not surprising that green infrastructure is becoming increasingly important.

Green infrastructures are intended to increase well-Being and health and thus quality of life, which in turn leads to greater satisfaction. In addition, green infrastructure is now being used to mitigate the effects of climate change and the resulting extreme weather events (e.g., heat waves, heavy rain, etc.) „Kaluarachchi (2020, p. 98) “.

Smart technologies in green infrastructures enable, among other things, the monitoring and control of air quality in different areas of a city by means of sensor technology. This will eliminate the need for people to manually measure the quality at various points. Figure 3 shows a possible smart green infrastructure in a city.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 3 smart green infrastructure in a city „EEA (2021) “

4 smart coutry infrastructure

This chapter deals with the topic of smart country infrastructure. As in the previous chapter, a distinction is made between technical, social, and green infrastructure.

4.1 Smart technical country infrastructure

At the country level, smart technical infrastructure describes, for example, the intelligent management and control of transportation networks or the use and allocation of resources such as electricity, gas, and water.

With the help of new high-performance information and communication technologies, the use of national and international rail networks could be optimized. Rail sections are divided into so-called blocks. These blocks can be several kilometers long „Fenner et al. (2011, p. 125-126) “. There may be a maximum of one rail vehicle in each block. The consequence of this safety-related measure is that the rail network is in practice fully utilized, but in theory it is used very inefficiently „CER (2006, p.79) “. The true potential of the German rail network cannot be exploited with the current, old technology.

Since 2006, the European Union has been planning to introduce the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTSM). The ERTMS is based on the use of information from the track network (such as speed, positions, and other data) and processes them. For data collection, both trains and track beds are equipped with sensors that are used for data transmission. In addition, information about weather conditions is included. The goal is the efficient use of the rail network. ERTMS enables several rail vehicles to operate simultaneously in the blocks and, in some cases, even to run in sight „CER (2006, p. 80) “. Figure 4 shows the use of smart technologies, for optimal control and monitoring of the rail network.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 4 Future smart railway scenarios „Qingyong et. al. (2017, p. 282)”

4.2 Smart social country infrastructure

Social infrastructures, at the state level, can use smart technologies to coordinate disasters response, support cross-regional education, and coordinate events for diverse groups, among other things.

An example of this is the management of free intensive care beds during the Corona pandemic. At the federal level, the transfer of intensive care patients to other states with less busy hospitals was controlled. The use of smart technologies can greatly simplify this process. For example, by storing the capacity data of all hospitals collectively and evaluating it in conjunction with forecasts on the further pandemic development of the regions, an efficient allocation of patients can be made possible.

4.3 Smart green country infrastructure

Superregional green infrastructure includes projects and areas that essentially mitigate the effects of climate change and protect animal and plant species „EU (2014, p. 1) “.


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Defining smart infrastructure. Smart technical, social, and green infrastructures in cities and at the federal level and beyond
University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven
Transport Economics
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
Infrastructure, smart, smart Infrastructure, technical infrastructure, social infrastructure, green infrastructure, smart city infrastructure, smart country infrastructure, potential risks
Quote paper
Jonas Harde (Author), 2022, Defining smart infrastructure. Smart technical, social, and green infrastructures in cities and at the federal level and beyond, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Defining smart infrastructure. Smart technical, social, and green infrastructures in cities and at the  federal level and beyond

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free