7 22 Smart Cities

Smart cities
What are smart cities? A smart city is defined as the ability to integrate multiple technological solutions securely to manage the city’s assets—the city’s assets include, but are not limited to, local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, law enforcement, and other community services. The goal of building a smart city is to improve the quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. Business drives technology and large-scale urbanization drive innovation and new technologies. Technology is driving the way city officials interact with the community and the city infrastructure. Through the use of real-time systems and sensors, data is collected from citizens and objects—then processed in real-time. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency. Technology can be used as an enabler to tell what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life.

The technology developed to create the so-called “smart cities” can make cities more effective and efficient in the use of resources, which is necessary given the projected fast growth in urban populations over the next decades.
While the definition of a smart city continues to evolve, some things have become more clear: smart cities make the most of information and communication technologies to improve service levels, citizens’ well-being, sustainability, and economic development.
About two-thirds of the world’s largest cities have already invested in technology and many others are considering its implementation. The increase in federal funding and strong partnerships between city governments and private sector technology companies will further consolidate the reality of smart cities in the upcoming years.

What is it like to live in a smart city?

There are many practical and economic benefits to smart cities and smart technology. However, although it seems there are only advantages for the society and the environment, we cannot lose sight of some things that may seem good now, but that could become inconveniences in the long term and vice versa. These are some factors to consider:
Advantages of smart cities

• Making more effective and data-based decisions:
A well-designed data analysis strategy gives city officials the ability to access and analyze a large amount of data, and obtain meaningful and useful information. When a city can monitor desired metrics in real-time, service levels increase rapidly.
• Better transport services:
Connected transport systems have one of the greatest potential to drastically improve efficiency throughout the city. From improved traffic management to the ability to track the buses and train location, smart technologies allow cities to better serve citizens even though populations often grow rapidly.
• Safer communities:
A smart city is a safer city. Making the most of technological advances and seeking private/public partnerships help reduce criminal activity. Technologies such as license plate recognition, shooting detectors, connected crime centers, the next generation of the 911 emergency telephone system, and body cameras give police authorities an advantage while they work.
• Efficient public services:
With a limited supply of natural resources available to meet human demand, smart technologies are providing cities with the necessary tools to effectively conserve and reduce the involuntary waste of water and electricity.
• Reduction of the environmental footprint:
Energy-efficient buildings, air quality sensors, and renewable energy sources are providing cities with new tools to reduce their ecological impact.
• Increase in digital equity:
To ensure digital equity, people must have access to high-speed internet services and affordable devices. The adoption of strategically located public Wi-Fi access places throughout the city can offer reliable internet services to all residents.
• New economic development opportunities:
Investments in smart cities are playing an increasingly important role in improving the regional and global competitiveness of cities, to attract new residents and businesses. Besides, by providing an open data platform with access to city information, companies can make informed decisions through data analysis of the smart city integrated technologies.
• Infrastructure improvement:
Roads, bridges, and old buildings often require massive investments to be maintained and repaired during their useful life. Smart technology can provide cities with predictive analytical reports to identify areas that need to be solved before an infrastructure failure occurs.

plays a major role in keeping a citie’s citizens safe and keep crime low, which is mostly done by surveillance ( e.g. CCTV cameras: Not a new invention but technologies like facial recognition increased It’s value; Hotline and panic buttons throughout the city: authorities can react faster to emergencies; SMS alerts via GPS in emergencies)
*Focus on Infrastructure:
Setting the focus on expanding and improving the infrastructure simultaneously improves traffic management, which leads to a smoother traffic flow as well as development in public transport, both supporting a decrease in emissions.
By optimizing the usage of natural resources and making use of green energy, (e.g. energy efficient buildings) efficiency can be increased to allow for a dynamic economy and eco friendly oriented environment for the population. This calls forth an improvement in the quality of life.
*Data analysis:
By collecting data, data flow and information, and therefore adjusting services accordingly a citie’s effectiveness can be increased.

Disadvantages of smart cities

• Very limited privacy:
The use of security cameras and intelligent systems connected through all different spaces makes it more difficult to maintain anonymity. Technologies such as facial recognition drastically changed the concept of personal privacy.
• Social control:
The ability to track and centralize data gives great power to the person who handles the information. Whether it is a government or a private agency, whoever has access to citizens’ data can control, frighten and try to manipulate public opinion.
• Excess network trust:
By relying almost entirely on electronics and networks, cities lose autonomy in decision-making and could become incompetent to react or act in a scenario where these tools are not available.

  • High vulnerability due to Cyber attacks:

critical infrastructures can break down if one system fails due to a cyberattack (hacking). Furthermore critical information can be obtained by the wrong person, which can be instrumentalized as a dangerous weapon.
*System failure:
Leads to the disturbance of critical infrastructures.
*Privacy is compromised:
A lot of personal data is produced, which might violate one’s privacy (e.g. facial recognition) if there is a constant surveillance and tracking.
*Abuse of data:
If information gets into the wrong hands or anyone with malicious intentions , that power can be abused to manipulate an individual and even governments.
Dependence on machinery: Humans might rely too much on technologies, which could be dangerous in terms of machines failing and not always functioning correctly (e.g. self-driving cars: sensors might fail and cause an accident)

A Smart Healthcare sector

Ongoing population growth, limited staffing and lengthy hospital stays are rampant. These issues cause problems, along with growing threats of climate change, diminishing natural resources and increased life expectancies.
However, today, technology is transforming transportation and infrastructure in cities around the world. There is great potential for these technologies to bring revolution to the healthcare industry.
Smart cities rely heavily on sensors to perceive parameters such as temperature, humidity, allergens and pollution status. These values can provide context that helps a system to understand the state of a citizen at any given time.
The data allows city services to respond promptly to urgent health needs and make decisions to avoid unhealthy situations. As a result, analyzing data from smart technology can lead to a better quality of life.

The human in the center

The Smart City is much more than a collection of connected cars and buildings equipped with photovoltaic modules. If one understands the concept holistically, approaches such as e-governance or smart citizens must also be considered. This includes, for example, digital administration. In Copenhagen, people no longer need to make an appointment at the Citizens’ Registration Office to re-register or apply for a place in kindergarten. These and many other "government procedures" are easily possible with a few clicks in the online citizens' registration office.


Several dimension and related factors influence the definition of e-governance.
The word "electronic" in the term e-governance implies technology driven governance. It is the application of Information and communication technology for delivering government services. Through the e-governance, the government services will be made available to the citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner, allowing time to be saved and productivity to increase.

One of the leading smart cities in the world is Masdar city. The founding of Masdar City dates back to 2008, and this city is witnessing a distinguished investment journey, as Masdar City seeks to provide a green imprint for future cities; to accommodate rapid urban expansion, reduce energy and water consumption, reduce pollution and waste, the city is a mixture of traditional Arab urban arts and modern technology, and this city benefits from the movement of fresh air; To provide cool air in light of high temperatures, and to benefit from the sun's rays; To generate clean electrical energy, by utilizing solar panels installed on the roofs of buildings, and the city owns the largest photovoltaic equipment in the Middle East region.
Masdar City offers its residents the opportunity to live and work simultaneously; This is because it is a modern Arab city, where the city provides shaded and comfortable facilities for pedestrians, which reduces dependence on internal transport, and on-air conditioning, where the project is expected to attract approximately 40,000 residents, in addition to the presence of 50,000 Tourist and visitor in the city
And there are much more examples around the world of smart cities such as Singapore New York and Dubai and much more cities that have implemented new technologies and sustainability solutions like solar power and wind power that would help improve the quality of life and help the environment so all in all I would like to say that trying to convert our cities and implementing these technologies would help us advance a lot and help us carry a better life.

Timișoara as a Smart City

Timișoara is starting to take small steps towards becoming a smart city. During 2022, the Smart City and Digital Transformation Strategy for Timișoara launched (over a period of 6 months Timișoara City Hall coordinated a strategy co – design process). This strategy for 2022-2027 was developed by the municipality with the help of local IT companies, universities, and civic organisations and aims to bring Timișoara into the digital age. The UMFT (University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Victor Babeș“ of Timișoara) even organized an event back in 2017 called "E- Health for Smart Cities".

Categories of city level dysfunctions to which the strategy should respond are:

• Digitalisation processes and tools for the city administration
• Strategic vision and action plan
• Interconnected urban infrastructure and mobility
• Environment factors, green spaces and outdoor activities
• Communication with citizens and their participation in the decision making

These aims are planned to be reached by making innovation accessible to everyone, for example by:

• Educating civil servants to communicate effectively with the citizens through new tools for
information, consultation and collaboration
• Creating an integrated database and information flow between public institutions at local level
(e.g. maternity hospital - town hall - labour chamber / social insurance)
• Prototyping and piloting new means of urban mobility through international city partnerships
(eCar sharing, eBike sharing, AD shuttles, delivery bots/drones, smart intersections, etc.)
• Highlighting and protecting green spaces and biodiversity through smart tools and open data
• Scanning environmental quality (use of technologies - drones, sensors, platforms - to analyse
the quality of environmental factors in real time)
• Relying public decisions more and more on citizens’ consultations
• Incorporating all useful information: entertainment, tourist attractions, HORECA, public transport
routes, parking in an integrated App (“Timisoara - Cityapp”)

Even though the city still has to develop in many sections before becoming a complete smart city it already fulfils certain aspects of a smart city such as strong digital public services, traffic management, smart parking, free Wi-Fi almost everywhere, Velo TM, intelligent lighting, etc.

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