What is a Smart City?

What is a Smart City?

Smart City Blog Graphic

What is a Smart City

A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.[1] This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.[2][3][page needed] The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of things or IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens.[4][5] Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government.[6] Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses.[7] A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple “transactional” relationship with its citizens.[8] Yet, the term itself remains unclear to its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations.[9]

Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include cyberville, digital city, electronic communities, flexicity, information city, intelligent city, knowledge-based city, MESH city, telecity, teletopia, Ubiquitous city, wired city.

Major technological, economic and environmental changes have generated interest in smart cities, including climate change, economic restructuring, the move to online retail and entertainment, ageing populations, urban population growth and pressures on public finances.[10] .

For the City of New York, a “smart city” is an equitable city.

Under the leadership of the City’s Chief Technology Officer, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) spearheads the City of New York’s “Smart City, Equitable City” strategy for technology and innovation.

As part of this effort, MOTI works to better the lives of all New Yorkers and communities across the five boroughs by:

  • Establishing principles and strategic frameworks to guide connected device and Internet of Things (IoT) implementation
  • Serving as the coordinating entity for new technology and IoT deployments across all City agencies
  • Collaborating with academia and the private sector on innovative pilot projects
  • Partnering with municipal governments and organizations around the world to share best practices and leverage the impact of technological advancements

Drivers for Action

As the world becomes more digital and technology-dependent, the opportunity gap between technology haves and have-nots carries increased urgency.  Narrowing this digital divide and ensuring all New Yorkers can participate fully is central to the City’s strategy for technology and innovation. Digital technologies enhance well-being, reduce costs and resource consumption, and enable government to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

  • Real-time information enables a more responsive government
  • Better data generates cost savings and increased impact
  • Enhanced analytics allow for increased equity in the delivery of services
  • Sensors and digital tools allow for the more efficient use of City infrastructure and resources

Stay tuned for the next blog in this series that addresses BIAS Corporation and Smart City Technologies!


The following thoughts, intentions, strategies and/or solutions are those of the blog authors and do not represent the position of anyone other than the authors.