Smart cities around the world

Smart City: 5 examples around the world

The concept of smart cities is no longer a wild dream for science fiction enthusiasts! The future is indeed very much here, and technological innovation has become as fast-paced as it is ubiquitous. Governments everywhere are adopting advanced infrastructure to accommodate IoT solutions. Gradually, urban areas are integrating demand-responsive transportation and smart services to promote a more seamless way of living.

What is a Smart City, Exactly?

The trendy term seems to be thrown around a little more than is fully warranted, which proves how much hype surrounds the idea of a smart city! Yet, in order to qualify as one, there are a few prerequisites.

The Principles of Smart City

Above all else, a smart city is an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) framework dedicated to solving real issues its citizens face in their everyday life. It makes the development, deployment, and promotion of solutions for sustainable urbanisation possible. Thanks to an “intelligent” network of connected machines, infrastructure and objects that rely on wireless technology to transfer information, municipalities are able to address some of the most recurring problems the growth of built-up areas implies.

From mobility to trash collection, energy distribution, air quality and more, everything can be streamlined both for and with the help of the citizens. They engage with this ecosystem as they use it, since their actions – relayed by smart devices, connected homes, connected cars, etc. – create the data on which the system bases its “reasoning”. The more people interact with the services provided, the smarter the city gets as it adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

Smart City

In a city where everything is optimised, public transport is always available where and when individuals need it, smartphones can hold every single ticket, pass, ID card, driver’s licence and more. Connected vehicles can direct drivers to the nearest unoccupied parking spot, trash collection happens when the bins are full rather than on an inalterable schedule…

Here are a few examples of cities that have already implemented smart technology.

Copengagen: The World’s first Carbon-Neutral Smart City by 2025

Denmark has always emphasised the importance of easily implementable environmental policies, and the city’s efforts to become “smarter” naturally derived from this mentality. Thus, Copenhagen has long been an example of how convenient alternative mobility can be when the right kind of infrastructure is available. 

In 2017, the incubator Copenhagen Solutions Lab’s groundbreaking monitoring systems received an award. From air quality to energy use, waste management, traffic, parking, smart metering, connected building and more, everything in Copenhagen can be turned into data. This information can then be analysed, measured, and compared to increase efficiency in every aspect of city life, and – perhaps even more prominently – delivery services and mobility. 

This translated into apps that cyclists can use to navigate the smart city of Copenhagen more constructively. For instance, their phone will tell them how fast they should pedal if they want to make the next green light, or suggest optimised itineraries based on user recommendations. 

In Denmark, the well-known challenge of first and last mile transportation is being tackled thanks to the flexibility of demand-responsive transport. An app is made available to users who can make the most of their journeys through a nationwide multimodal planner.

Dubai: a growing market for Smart City investments

This incredible smart city already boasts over 90 digitised government services and 100 smart technology initiatives! These address infrastructure, communication, transport, urban planning, energy use and more. City officials massively invested in the DubaiNow app to eliminate the reliance on paper transactions completely. They also implemented mobility programmes that use artificial intelligence to monitor and assist bus drivers, thus greatly reducing the number of fatigue-related accidents.

The city features unique services, such as its three automated police stations. Citizens can use them to report incidents or pay fines without any human assistance. Now famous for its distinctive technological undertakings, Dubai puts innovation at the core of every decision. A good example of this mindset is the 3D-printed, 31-foot-tall concrete building recently erected. Using this technology to build a 6,889 square-foot structure certainly is a world first!

Another technologically advanced feature of this smart city is the Dubai-Abu Dhabi hyperloop, which, once completed, will have cost as much as $6 billion for a 151-kilometre-long system! The city is also working to boost innovation across the mobility sector as a whole, with an emphasis on Demand-Responsive Transport to facilitate first- and last-mile transportation. Soft mobility is being explored as well in the form of electric and hybrid taxis, buses, and self-driving vehicles.


Singapore: the Word’s smartest City

Perhaps one of the leading examples of smart cities, the South-East Asia city-state of Singapore is also the second most densely populated area in the world. With such challenging settings, the government opted to increase the city’s efficiency through smart technology and did so with great success. This is how the Singapore Smart Nation Vision framework came to be. Connected to a vast network of sensors set up throughout the city, the system collects data on all types of activity (pedestrian, traffic, etc.) and analyses it to optimise its services.

All the data is available to private citizens and companies alike thanks to the network’s open sourcing principles. It can be leveraged for a variety of uses, including the collaborative data platform that the National Research Foundation is basing the dynamic 3D city model of Virtual Singapore upon. By utilising this convenient model, firms can test an array of concepts before rolling them out, such as water management systems, smart home technology and monitoring solutions to accommodate the needs of an ageing population.

Singapore also shows a clear shift towards on-demand mobility, which constitutes a relevant means of addressing sustainability concerns, user safety, disability, or the inefficiency of personal vehicles. In June 2018, the Ministry of Transport commenced on-road testing of autonomous shuttles and Demand-Responsive Transport services.

Boston: The North-American laboratory

Boston was one of the first smart cities in the United States. It started exploring smart initiatives when its Innovation District opened. There, over 200 startups did their part to drive innovation and join in the creation of the city’s “participatory urbanism” masterplan. Thanks to dedicated apps, the citizens can communicate with each other and with the authorities, report issues, track public transportation, receive parking information, etc.

This mobility-oriented smart city even launched a video game simulation to encourage the community to participate in planning and development! 

In addition, state-wide demand-responsive service Dial-a-Ride provides curb-to-curb transportation on demand to improve how people with disabilities, senior citizens, and even the general public can access mobility.

Hong Kong: speeding towards a smart city future

The city of Hong Kong boasts over 70 smart technology initiatives, with an emphasis on “smart economy” and “smart government”. Many of the city’s sensors are fitted onto lampposts, which are even being used as 5G hubs.

Hong Kong features a mobile-friendly dashboard screen that informs citizens in real time. They can use it to access charts, images, maps, traffic and parking information, public transport schedules and more in real time.

The country is also known for its red minibuses serving non-franchised routes. The demand-responsive service allows passengers to reserve their seats through an app which optimises vehicle deployment.


Cities all around the world are working on improving their services thanks to the advances of smart technology in an effort to provide a better quality of life for all their citizens.

ghita@padam.ioSmart cities around the world

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