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Essay: Smart-Energy Efficient Cities

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  • Published: 22 September 2015*
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1. Introduction

Nowadays, almost 70% of the European Union population is urbanized, and this number is expected to grow up on the next years. European Cities happens to be the center of growth and produce around 80% of the EU’s gross domestic product. What is more, these cities consume 70% of the energy and contribute for the 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, European cities are considered the place we should start making radical reforms in order for energy savings to be achieved. In order to make this happen, European Parliament came up with a policy study ‘Mapping Smart Cities in the EU’ (Mapping Smart Cities in the EU) (Parliament, 2014) to lay the foundations on the this new environmental policy.
As a result, all the cities of the EU, from the smallest one to the giant one and from cities with ancient background to brand new towns, are working on different ‘smart cities’ projects in order to become more efficient, sustainable and finally more enchanting to citizens. Nevertheless, there are always obstacles blocking these courageous plans. The fact that every city in the world is unique and has its own ‘personality’ leads to the point that there is no standard pattern to use for this city mutation. However some similarities of them can be very useful to try to investigate any related characteristics. This document tries to analyze the methodology followed, a reference to the existing Smart Cities models,++ and the perspective of stockholders who are willing to invest.

2.1 Definition of Smart City and its characteristics.

A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement. (Caragliu, 2009)

‘A city well performing in a forward-looking way in economy, people, governance, mobility, environment, and living, built on the smart combination of endowments and activities of self-decisive, independent and aware citizens.’ (Giffinger, 2007)

A city ‘combining ICT and Web 2.0 technology with other organizational, design and planning efforts to de- materialize and speed up bureaucratic processes and help to identify new, innovative solutions to city management complexity, in order to improve sustainability and livability.’ (Toppeta, 2010)

In other words smart cities were developed from the combination of the two great influences of modern thought. The first refers to the understanding of each town from the perspective of the creativity and the second from the reproducing, managing and governance of cities through ICT.

Smart cities can be analyzed in a framework of a six axes or dimensions.

‘ Smart Economy
‘ Smart Mobility
‘ Smart Environment
‘ Smart People
‘ Smart Living
‘ Smart Governance

(Somayya Madakam, 2014)

Smart Economy

Adam Smith, one of the first economists, defined the aspects of world economy: products are estimated to cost a specific price after their existence in a free market of supply-demand. After that, an economy is characterized as the total amount of value of a business activity between two parts. Recently the term smart economy was introduced, which is nothing more than the value of new technology, creative inventions and intellectual devices. Some of the characteristics of smart economy are the educational system, scientific research, corporate finance, global connections and transactions and public services (health care). Nowadays, many European countries have already started their own form of smart economy i.e. Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Ireland.

Smart mobility

The term Smart mobility refers to the general transportation system. It is connected with reliable schedules and safe travelling, having as main object the use of sustainable energy and the control of traffic management. Furthermore the use of bicycles, public means of transport, electric cars and car sharing services are main project that help the mobility of a city. What is more the existent transportation system is reconstructed using as guide the European standards. In many institutions there are many ongoing researches on mobility solutions as traffic detection, passenger boarding system and even recognition of license plates.

Smart environment

The main aspects of smart environment are the environmental protection, the reduction of pollution, the attractivity of natural conditions and final the extended use of sustainable resources. ++
Smart People

In order for a city to become smart, habitants of the same city should be open-minded in new technologies and environmental policies, and also well educated. Berry and Glaeser (2005) noticed that the most accelerated urban growth occurred in cities where education is a high priority for the inhabitants. The cities, that belong in this category are often educational centers and have the tension to attract scientist and scholars people.

Smart Living

The factors and the indicators we take into consideration in order to measure the smart livingness of a city are the cultural facilities, social cohesion, health conditions, touristic attractivity, individual safety education facilities and housing qualities. By smart living we imply the life style that is enabled with the new technologies and the ICT.

Smart Governance

By smart Governance term we refer to the benefits that a city can gain through the emergence of ICTs from the perspective of governance, services and interactions. The most useful tools in order to achieve this ICT is a combination of technologies, policies, resources, people, practices, information and social norms. Smart governance is the core characteristic of a smart city, and the main ingredient to orchestrate and incorporate the rest five. (Hafedh Chourabi, 2012)

2.2 The relationship between characteristics and components

In this section we will provide you with the theoretical backround of the fundamental factors that when applyied result to tranform a city to smart one. Those key components after identified and determined, divided in three caterories of core factors: technology, people and institution.

Figure 1 Fundamental Components of Smart City. (Taewoo Nam, 2011)

2.2.1 Technology factor

Technology is the key element for a city to become smart. The ICT applications that are installed on the city can transform the life of the inhabitants in a significant extraordinary way. IT infrastructures in combination with the ICT applications are prerequisites for a smart city. Unfortunately all these are useless without the effort and the willingness of collaborate between public institution, organizations and the citizens. +
2.2.2 Human Factors

As mentioned above, the IT infrastructure is not enought to guarantee the success of a smart city. Human factor is a very important component of a smart city and especially smart people when they participate in public life. Generaly, Smart Cities are centers of higher education and that fact attracts smart people and vice versa. In other words education works as a critical magnet that makes the city seems more attractive.++

2.2.3 Institutional Factors

Government can play a critical role in the establishment of a city as Smart. Having the support of a government and cooperate with its policy, is necessary in order to create strategic and promotional activities, that are prerequisite for success. A smarter government will augment the possibilities of a well organized community to reach growth in faster pace. Leading governments also, establish their service delivery in a supportive way for the inhabittands, that is usualy described as ‘citizen-centric’.
Caragliu. (2009). Caragliu, A; Del Bo, C. & Nijkamp, P (2009). “Smart cities in Europe”. Serie Research Memoranda 0048 (VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics).
Giffinger, R. F.-M. (2007). Smart Cities: Ranking of European Medium-Sized Cities. . Vienna, Austria: Centre of Regional Science (SRF), Vienna University of Technology. .
Hafedh Chourabi, T. N.-G. (2012). Understanding Smart Cities: An Integrative Framework .
Mapping Smart Cities in the EU, J. 2.-I.
Parliament, E. (2014). Mapping Smart Cities in EU.
Somayya Madakam, P. R. (2014). Smart Cities – Six Dimensions. Institute of Research Engineers and Doctors.
Taewoo Nam, T. A. (2011). Conceptualizing Smart City with Dimensions of Technology, People, and Institutions. University at Albany, State University of New York, U.S.
Toppeta, D. (2010). The Smart City Vision: How Innovation and ICT Can Build Smart, ‘Livable’, Sustainable Cities. The Innovation Knowledge Foundation. .

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