Smart Cities

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What is Smart City?

Smart City

Smart city's definition may vary from person to person. However, in a general term, a smart city is a "framework, predominantly composed of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to develop, deploy and promote sustainable development practices to address growing urbanization challenges." [1] The main goal of a smart city is to enhance the quality of life for its "citizens through smart technology." [2]

How is the Smart City funded?

There are numerous ways for funding and financing for smart cities. Currently, one trend in funding smart city initiative by many governments is to form a partnership with the private sector by "sharing both the risk and the reward together." [3] An example would be the LinkNYC in New York. LinkNYC is a 200 million project designed to replace legacy phone booths with 7,500 digital kiosks throughout the city, and it is funded by New York City and a private foundation called CityBridge through a formation of a partnership. [4] "Despite the broad acceptance of the benefits of smart city technology, finding internal funds for investment are not always easy to find." [5] As such, although there are traditional lease and loans options still available, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are becoming an "increasingly popular method of funding for smart cities."[6]


The Smart city’s main idea revolves around connectivity. It functions like a human body. There are buildings, roads, parks, lakes where activities take place, just like there are muscles and veins in our body. And just like our body where we have different senses sending information to our brain which helps us understand and adapt to our environment, smart city has many different sensors that allow people to gather necessary data and sends it to city operator or even citizens to better understand the city. As such, sensors are the building blocks of any smart city. They have already transformed the way humans perceive their environment. Today, sensor-enabled smart cities are paving the way for a more sustainable future.[7] Below is a definition of different technologies that smart city utilizes in order to gather data.



A sensor by definition is a device that "detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment." [8] The signal returned by a sensor may be "binary (on/off) or a value within a range, such as a temperature, light, wind, humidity, precipitation, position, and acceleration, or even images through the camera." [9] Since sensors are operating in real time, they can produce large amounts of information. Therefore, sensors are "normally connected to some kind of unit that monitors changes, and forwards data at regular intervals." [10]


An actuator, on the other hand, is the opposite of a sensor. It takes electrical quantity as an input and outputs non-electrical quantity. [11] An example would be a speaker or electrical motors. Both the sensor and actuator are nearly a complimentary unit, which is why almost every smart cities are utilizing both sensors and actuator to collect data.

IoT Sensor

IoT Sensors

An IoT Sensors refers to "sensors that can communicate their readings to internet cloud services for further aggregation and trend analysis." [12] The benefit of using IoT sensors is that these hardware are relatively inexpensive, allowing cities to "deploy sensor technology on a larger scale." [13] Phones nowadays have built-in sensors such as GPS. [14] Even "cars have built-in computers handling sensor input, local processing, and communications." [15] These IoT sensors are valuable because it will assist in building better infrastructure, public transport planning, as well as emergency response and other vital services. [16]

Data Analysis

Smart Cities "generate significant amounts of data in their daily operations," both static and real-time data. [17] However, without doing some kind of analysis, the data will not be so useful. That is why the massive amounts of data collected by a smart city must be analyzed quickly in order to transform raw data into information. If these data are analyzed effectively, it can help cities to filter and translate data into relevant and actionable information that makes city life better, easier, and more productive. For example, from connected lighting systems, "traffic data captured by streetlights can uncover a prime location for a new restaurant in a revitalized neighborhood." [18] Like so, if these data are analyzed effectively, "can offer insights and economic value that cities and city stakeholders can use to improve efficiency and potentially lead to innovate new services that could improve the lives of citizens." [19]

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Smart cities use information and communication technologies, which is referred to as ICT, to "implement their strategies and to collect and deliver information to different users" based on the data collected by sensors and actuator. [20] This is the concept of basically "connecting any device with an ON and OFF switch through the internet." [21] This includes cell phones, washing machines, lamps, electric motors and almost any device. [22] The idea is that all these devices or components can be controlled either using smartphone application or using web pages designed for this purpose. This will allow smart cities to "exploit new technologies to deliver smart solutions to cities and citizens." [23]

Cloud Computing

Use of cloud computing is one of the ICT trends that is present today. One factor that is driving the adoption of cloud solutions for Smart Cities is because of the "massive increase in data that is being generated, captured and analyzed by cities as they start to deploy and exploit IoT technologies." [24] As more sensors are collecting data all around the cities, it means that" cities now have access to a multitude of high-volume real-time data sources." [25] Cloud computing, defined generally as the "delivery of computing as a service", can offer cities with "ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency." [26] According to a research, this "also has a significant influence on enabling a broader set of players to enter the Smart City market." [27] However, because cloud computing still has a privacy issue, cities only use cloud computing for non-core services. Some cities in Taiwan has adopted cloud computing for its intelligent transportation system.[28] More information on Taiwan's intelligent transportation can be found on the Intel Inside website. Also, in Barcelona, they are already using public cloud infrastructure to "deliver identity services and device management for its field-based workforce, to improve its Customer Relationship Management systems for managing citizen interactions." [29] [30]


Connectivity allows people to derive insights from information. These insights are the key reason that allows smart cities to continue to learn and to adapt. And from this, smart application for a day-to-day living can be developed. There is a wide range of application that results from this connectivity which includes smart energy, Smart building, smart parking, Waste solution, and E-Payment.


Smart energy in smart city refers to provide a step by step energy solution for the smart city which includes three stages: Smart energy generation, Smart storage, and Smart distribution. File: Grid.PNG

Smart Energy Systems focus on the incorporation of more sectors (electricity, heating, cooling, industry, buildings, and transportation) and allows for the identification of more achievable and affordable solutions to the transformation into future renewable and sustainable energy solutions.[31]

Smart energy generation

“Smart energy generation” refers to the use of new sources, the renewable energy, like solar and Geothermal, to integrate with traditional power generation systems to fulfill growing demand of the city while reducing the emissions of CO2 and potentially help reduce costs for both the provider and consumer.[32]

A major part of the Smart City involves the use of the renewable energy sources to replace citizens' consumption of traditional fossil-fuel generated eletricity.

Renewable-energy sources


Solar power: Solar power is "the power within the sunlight, Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun's energy and making it useable." [33] For a long time, people developed many devices to collect solar energy for heat and electricity. "An example of an early solar energy collection device is the solar oven (a box for collecting and absorbing sunlight). In the 1830s, British astronomer John Herschel used a solar oven to cook food during an expedition to Africa." [34]

Wind power: Wind power refers to the process of using wind to generate mechanical power or electricity through wind turbines. Wind power is also similar to solar power in a way that it relies on the nature to generate electricity.

Biomass: Biomass refers to all organic materials that come from plants and animals which are used to generate either mechanical power or electricity. Sufficient use of biomass could significantly reduce the cost of energy generation within the smart city. Biomass materials include wood and wood waste, municipal solid waste, landfill gas and biogas, ethanol, and biodiesel.

hydropower: Hydropower is the energy created by the movement of water. "Devices specifically designed for hydropower transfers energy created from fast running water to electricity. Hydropower is one of the oldest sources of energy for producing mechanical and electrical energy."[35]

Concerns of smart energy generation

The major concern of smart energy is the instability of the power supply such as wind power and solar power. As it heavily relies on the weather, the amount of electricity production on a rainy morning or on a windless day could be very different from what you would get in a sunny, bright and windy afternoon. Unlike the supply, demand typically stays the same or even sometimes increases in these events, so experts are continuously putting an effort into making smart energy more reliable. [36]

Smart storage

As mentioned in the concerns of smart energy generation, the supply of smart energy is unstable, so the storage of the extra smart energy generated during the low-demand period is important. Currently, there are two solutions to store the renewable energy, Energy storage systems(ESSs) and Pumped-storage hydropower.

Energy storage systems(ESSs)

Energy Storage System relies on battery systems. In order to implement this system in the smart city, the battery must be installed in each home and commercial areas. The extra renewable energy generated during the low-demand period will be stored into the battery and gets used in the case where there is a lack of supply or even when the electric market price is too high.

Pumped-storage hydropower

Pumped-storage hydropower

"Pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) is a type of hydroelectric energy storage. It is a configuration of two water reservoirs at different elevations that can generate power (discharge) as water moves down through a turbine; this draws power as it pumps water (recharge) to the upper reservoir"[1]

Smart energy distribution

Smart energy distribution in a smart city relies on a system called smart energy distribution and management system(SEDMS). "SEDMS is a new system connected to the existing power grid and the new renewable energy system."[2]

SEDMS have five main features:

1) New-renewable energy distribution and management: Traditional systems do not have any intelligent management functions. The use of the renewable energy continually increased worldwide brings many issues related to power system operation. Therefore the innovation on the intelligent distribution integrates with renewable energy system is necessary.[3]

2) Adaptive and Dynamic demand management: Demand response in SEDMS is managing power consumption relies on the energy price.[4]

3) Device control through pattern-based service prediction: Controlling an appliance through changing (dynamic) rules which are dynamically modified according to the location characteristics and the user's situations[5]

4) Location-based context-aware service: The system will install the smart meter(smart control unit) in each room to meet the needs of the specific user. It can respond to the data collected from situational events. These features make it able to provide the adaptive service based on space and user characteristics [6]

5) Light-weight system design through adaptive middleware: The Light-weight system is used for reducing SEDMS's process time and electricity consumption[7]

The smart grid and smart meter are two important concepts in this system to achieve smart power distribution, monitoring, and controlling power consumption.

Smart grid

Smart Grid

A smart grid is a digital technology-based power network that powers consumers through two-way digital communications. For the generation and distribution side, a smart grid allows the supplier to monitor, analyze, control and communicate with the consumer to magnify the transparency and reliability.[1] Through communicating with smart meters in each place, a smart grid is able to improve the efficiency, reduce energy consumption and cost.

Smart meter

Smart meters allow a two-way communication between the points of generation and consumption. [2]. Smart meters collect data from sensors then commute information with the smart grid through wireless technology. "The Social Innovation in Energy whitepaper found that at the start of 2015, there were 510 million smart meters installed globally; this number is set to increase to 980 million by the end of 2020 and 450 million of these will be in China."[3]

Case study

Smart energy in Norway: "Norway´s electricity generation is 97% renewable and the Norwegian Government has set ambitious targets for even more sustainable energy use." [4] In the meantime, the government announced that they are aimed to reduce the emissions of greenhouses gases by 30 percent by 2020. Norway has a large amount of wind energy. But currently, only 632MW energy transfer machine has been installed. Almost all the facilities are being installed on land. So nowadays, Norway put vast effort to develop there floating wind energy transfer facilities. Also, Norway has been producing hydrogen for 90 years. With abundant renewable power and the highest penetration of electricity mobility in the world, Norway holds several initiatives in developing hydrogen value chains for transportation and grid storage. [5] Norway has the advanced Pumped-storage hydropower storage system as shown in video “Pumped-storage hydropower”.


A smart building can analyze its environment and make real-time adjustments to improve its efficiency and productivity. Another concept, Green Building, means working towards sustainable, energy-efficient buildings. The focus of green building is to increase the efficiency of energy, water and materials use while reducing the impact of buildings on human health and the environment during the life of the building through better design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

Living Buildings

With the help of Internet of Things (IoT), Green Buildings are transforming into Connected Building. Big Data problem is aroused due to the large variety and huge volume of data collected from the multiple energy, IT, and security systems. Big Data is about understanding "the relationships, patterns within and among pieces of data generated from multiple sources for operational efficiencies, reducing energy consumption, improving occupant experiences, and optimizing financial performance".[6] It is shown that traditional and manual methods of analysis don’t produce desired results. By using the sensors, actuators, and nano-embedded systems, IoT combined the relationship of different data and form enormous information about the building, which "enables Green building to forecast, predict, and optimize its operations and needs".[7] Connected Building is "self-aware, self-regulated and optimized transforms it into 'Sustainable Green Building' also some time termed as 'Living Building'".[8]

Some companies & organizations are working towards smart buildings so the buildings can respond better to environmental stimuli or a company’s energy efficiency policies, for example, Honeywell, IBM, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The technologies involved in Smart Building mainly include Environmental Monitoring and Network Connectivity.

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring utilizes various types of sensors to track occupancy, assess lighting levels, gauge temperature, humidity, and monitor energy consumption. This can be achieved through energy metering, power monitoring, intelligent lighting sensors and protocol converters.

Network Connectivity - Distributed Antenna System (DAS)

A distributed antenna system (DAS) is the solutions for in-building Internet connection. As long as we have the in-building connectivity, the smart system can be operated. Indoor systems provide wireless cellular service for a building and allow everyone inside to fully use their mobile devices, including apps for controlling smart technologies. A distributed antenna system is made up of a base station and a system of antennas. The base station collects a signal from a carrier network and creates a cellular network for the building, which is then carried throughout the whole building with discrete antennas and cabling. These settings not only benefit building managers and tenants but also bring significant advantages to building owners by increasing the value of the property with DAS. [9]

Smart Building Examples

The Edge

Smart Buildings: The Edge Building


The Edge in Amsterdam is considered as "the ­greenest building in the world, according to British rating agency BREEAM, which gave it the highest ­sustainability score ever awarded: 98.4 percent". [1] The construction cost of the Edge is "€74 million excluding value added tax and building equipment". [2] The Edge knows the users' locations, the cars they drive and the schedule of users. All the users need to use in the Edge is your smartphone app, which is "developed by Deloitte", the building’s main tenant.[3] From the minute you wake up, you’re connected. The Edge knows the users' preferences about the lighting and the temperature, so when users go from one room to another, the Edge will change the environment accordingly. The ultra-efficient LED panels, made exclusively by Philips for the Edge, require electricity they can be powered using the same cables that carry Internet data. "The system uses nearly 6,500 connected LED luminaires to create a ‘digital ceiling’ in the building’s 15 stories. With integrated IoT sensors in 3,000 of these luminaires that work with Interact Office lighting management software, the system captures, stores, shares and distributes information throughout the illuminated space".[4] The digital ceiling "wires the building like synapses in a brain", with different functional sensors packed in the panels, including light, temperature, and humidity. [5] The Philips lighting system has resulted in an "annual reduction of €100,000 in energy costs and an impressive €3.6 million savings in space utilization. Almost 1,000 more staff now work in this smart connected space than was originally intended, making The Edge Deloitte’s least expensive office globally as well as its most popular – with the firm experiencing four times more applicants than average applying for jobs". [6]

UniverCity Childcare Centre


SFU UniverCity Childcare Centre in Burnaby, B.C. has gained "the Petal Certification under the Living Building Challenge Standard" which is "launched in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute". "It is one of the most stringent and innovative green building certification systems in the world". [7] The centre is developed by SFU’s Community Trust "in partnership with the SFU Childcare Society and the Faculty of Education". [8] It has to "generate as much energy as it uses, collect or recycle more water than it consumes, and be built and operated using non-toxic materials, sourced as locally as possible", to meet the Living Building Challenge. [9]

The followings are the net-zero energy and net-zero water facility of UniverCity Childcare Centre: "It has to treat all of its wastewater onsite. The products and materials used in the project must be from local and regional sources and contain none of the hazardous chemicals listed in the Red List. All wood in the project must be either salvaged or FSC certified. All interior spaces of the building must provide direct access to daylight and fresh air". [10]

In addition, the project team decided to achieve such ambitious goals through a cost-effective construction process which will eventually "cost 10 to 15 percent less" than other conventional B.C. childcare facilities being built in the region, without the green features. [11] The construction cost is "CAD $3.2 million". [12]


For future development, carbon dioxide is being studied to turn into sustainable concrete."The new building material could transform polluting emissions into a valuable resource. A team of interdisciplinary researchers at UCLA has been working on a unique solution that may help eliminate the sources of greenhouse gases. Their plan would be to create a closed-loop process: capturing carbon dioxide from power plant smokestacks and using it to create a new building material — CO2NCRETE™ — by using 3D printers. And this is what we called 'upcycling'.” [13] "Carbon upcycling is based on the integration of several technologies into a closed-loop, to fabricate CO2NCRETE™, a near CO2-neutral construction material. The process is designed to efficiently utilize flue gas exhausted from point source emitters (e.g., power plants and cement plants), by efficiently recovering waste heat and enriching CO2 present in the gas stream. A novel binder system based on calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime) is mixed with aggregates and admixtures to form a shape-stabilized CO2NCRETE™ building element. The final, and key step lies in combining the captured CO2 with CO2NCRETE™ element via a carbonation reaction (i.e., CO2-mineralization) to form a solid building component".[14] Currently, "CO2NCRETE™ has only been produced in a lab scale, using 3D printers to shape it into tiny cones, but it stands as proof of concept that this is possible".[15] "The next steps will be to increase the volume of the material, test it under real-world conditions, and figure out how to introduce it at a commercial scale."[16] "The scale on which the researchers hope to be working could potentially bring 3D printing off the desktop and into the building yard. Whilst most 3D printers are used to produce modestly sized 3D printed objects, the CO2NCRETE project would require 3D printed objects up to five meters long". [17]

Pros and Cons

Smart buildings are designed to save energy and resources, recycle materials and minimize the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle. Smart building technologies allow facilities managers to adjust energy use based on occupancy, weather and other factors. It "harmonizes with the local climate and the surrounding environment". It "makes efficient use of resources, has significant operational savings and increases workplace productivity". It is "able to sustain and improve the quality of human life whilst maintaining the capacity of the ecosystem at the local and global levels".[18] The benefits mentioned just now can deliver a major advantage to building owners by increasing property values. A distributed antenna system is a huge selling point for all buildings, especially smart buildings.

Even solar power provides energy independence, and supplies free and clean energy; the disadvantages are that the power can fluctuate, and systems can be costly to install. "The digital ceiling was one of the most expensive innovations; Erik Ubels, chief information officer for Deloitte in the Netherlands, says it will take 8.3 years to earn it back." [19] This shows that the main disadvantage of Smart Building is the expensive technical innovation and construction costs.

Smart Parking

Smart Parking

On a daily basis, it is estimated that "30% of vehicles on the road in the downtown area of major cities are cruising for a parking spot" and "it takes an average of 7.8 minutes to find one." [1] Everyone who has ever been to downtown of Vancouver probably had a problem with parking at least once. According to Cisco, the average resident in Paris spends four years of their life looking for a parking spot.[2] This causes not only a waste of time and fuel for drivers him or herself looking for parking but for other drivers as well as a result of traffic congestion. This is why a lot of companies are working on solutions that would simplify the process of parking a car. How smart parking works differs from projects to projects, but the one we found most interesting was the one that was created by Smart Parking Limited. Video on the right illustrates how the smart parking system works. Below is one example of implementation of this particular smart parking system.

Case Study: Smart Parking Limited

Parking Sensor

The town of Claremont in Western Australia had a problem with people abusing the parking system. So basically, the town has a lot of retail area of shops, restaurant, and cafes and they have free on-street parking with a maximum stay of 30 minutes to discourage long stays and to increase turnover of visitors. However, there was a limit to how much the Parking enforcement officers could monitor the violators since it was impossible for them to constantly walk around and check every car, so people started to take advantage of this limited surveillance. To fix this problem, the town has installed 200 in ground vehicle detection sensors so rather than parking enforcement officers walking around to check every car, sensors send officers notification if a car is parked more than 30 minutes, making the process more efficient. According to Smart Parking Limited's website, the benefit of implementing its smart parking system includes an increase in profit for not only the retail operators, but the property developers as well as even the local government, reduction in searching time for a parking spot leading to less congestion, and increase in occupancy rate as well as turnover rate as a result of availability of real-time data of available spots. [3]

Related Concerns

Although a smart parking system would resolve many issues relating to parking such as a reduction in parking time for drivers, it does not come cost free. Some of the concerns related to smart parking system are the cost. Currently, there are numerous different smart parking system such as the one that is offered by Smart Parking Limited, or there is a fully automated parking system such as the one offered by the FATA Automation. Although these are different in terms of how they function, the one thing that these parking systems have in common is the fact that it is costly to implement and maintain these technologies. Although companies argue that the reduction in labor costs are large enough to offset these costs, there is only a little research currently available that supports their argument. Back in 2004, the capital cost alone for a smart parking system with just 6 sensors cost $205,000. [4] Imagine implementing this in a larger scale such as parking lot in the downtown area where more than 100 sensors will have to be installed in order for a system to work. However, like any new technology, the cost would decrease as its use become more pervasive. [5] Currently, there are numerous efforts in making the smart parking system more efficient such as making the parking system cloud-based and using IoT technologies to make it more efficient. [6]

Waste Solution

Waste solutions in smart city

Waste collection today is inefficiently performed using static schedules. Many bins are overflowing with waste causing unnecessary cleanup costs. While other bins are nearly empty making waste collection unnecessary, others need constant change. As a result, both time and money are used inefficiently, along with more damage to the environment as well. "This is why smart city integrates hardware and software solutions to optimize waste collection. The smart city server receives and manages data from both clean cube and clean cap. Users can log in to monitor the fill levels of clean cubes and clean caps in real time. This system will notify users when collections are required and generates optimized routes for each collection. With the smart waste solution, the smart city needs fewer trucks, less fuel, less time for waste collections which will reduce operational costs by up to eighty percent"[1].

Clean cube

"The clean cube is a solar-powered waste compacting bin. Its sensors monitor how much waste has been accumulated and automatically compacts the wastes so it can hold up to eight times more than normal bins." It also wirelessly transmits fill level information to smart city servers[2]. The main usage of this product in the smart city is indoor use such as in houses or on campus.

Clean cap

For the outdoor or commercial use or use in a smart building in the smart city, there is a clean cap. "The clean cap is a pin fill level sensor powered either by battery or solar energy. It can be used in all type containers such as wheelie bins large waste containers and even underground bins. It senses how much waste is inside of the container and wirelessly transmits fill level information to smart city servers" [3]

Case study

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is the world’s second-largest metropolitan area by population. Seoul is a world-famous tourist attraction city which attracts a lot of international tourists. As such, Seoul faces a serious problem in the waste collection area. The residence and tourists generate a large amount of waste every day. However, since waste collectors do not know when the garbage bins needs change, they had no choice but to collect all the bins five or six times daily, resulting in high cost. To reduce the cost of waste collections, the government of South Korea came to E-cube Labs (a smart waste solution company) seeking for its cooperation. "In 2014, 85 Clean Cube was installed in the city center and the software was implemented at the Public Cleanliness Department which utilized Clean City Networks. Within just three months of using Ecube Labs’ smart city waste management solutions, the city was able to see huge improvements in public sanitation. Since installing the Clean Cubes, the waste overflow was eliminated and there was a significant reduction of litter on the streets."[4]


Our interaction with payments is constantly evolving. Mobile payment can be considered as the most popular payment method nowadays. The technologies involved are the NFC, Bluetooth, and QR code scanning.


Near-field communication or NFC, is about the connection between two electronic devices, usually a mobile device and a reader. "NFC tech always involves one initiator which is the reader that generates an RF field to power a passive target" which is the smartphone. The smartphone "contains the stored credit card information".[5] And you just have to place the smartphone near the reader for payment transactions.


Bluetooth has a longer range than NFC, as it can "reach up to 50 meters compared to NFC". "Bluetooth creates a truly hands-free experience because shoppers would not even need to take out their phones to tap them to a reader." "NFC is limited to one-to-one interaction, as in one mobile device and one payments reader. But Bluetooth can facilitate multiple transactions at once from a single payments terminal, which would further speed up the checkout process."[6]

QR code

Using a mobile payment app to scan the QR code that has been printed on the bill. The app will automatically read the QR code. The payment page will then appear on the app and you will enter the amount of the transaction plus tip etc. For security, you then enter your credit card security code or PIN that you have put into the app and then continue to the confirmation page.

Pros and Cons

Instant mobile payment is easy and convenient to use. It is as simple as only need a few taps on the mobile phone devices for financial transactions. Using these technologies also help the retailers "serve their customers better by presenting them with an easy and hassle-free mode of payment". Offering better user experience helps to "enhance their own productivity and efficiency, thus enabling them to sustain customer loyalty, while also attracting newer customers".[7]

However, it may be expensive to use NFC-enabled technology if they have to purchase and maintain the required machines. The smaller companies may find it difficult to continue their existing profits. Hiring technicians to maintain the similar profits may cost much more expenses. Due to cost issues, smaller companies may not be able to "receive the latest technological developments". "Unfortunately, these companies are at a disadvantage, and they may lose current customers who are looking for easier, more integrated and contactless methods of payment." Also, mobile phone hacking is now a concerned problem and hackers are using with the latest methods to gain "unauthorized access into users’ personal, social security and financial data stored".[8] This makes the entire system insecure since the hackers are able to get the users' passwords easily for all accounts.

E-payment Examples

In Vancouver, many places have already accepted mobile payment methods, including restaurants, retailers, and vending machines. Electronic payments have been developed in many mobile devices, including Apple and Android phones. "Android Pay, developed by Google is to be used on both Android smartphones and Android Wear-based smartwatches." It is "designed to let people purchase items and services both online and in the real world". While using Android Pay, rather than tapping your credit card on an NFC machine, all you need to do is tap your smartphone on it instead, or just wave the phone over the machine for a payment transaction. The machine identifies the credit card details associated with your Google account and uses them to finish the payment. [9]

VISA connected car with Honda

Digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, with Visa and Mastercard are accepted to pay at Metro Vancouver transit fare gates and card readers, in addition to Compass cards. The digital wallet can be implemented easily since buses and trains already have NFC support. It will not "cost very much to add credit cards and cell phones" into the system.[10] "It’s intended to make payment easier for tourists and infrequent transit users. There is also an incentive to continue using Compass cards because those using credit cards or mobile payment will be charged the full “cash” fare as opposed to the discounted Compass fare." The public awareness campaign, Tap to Pay, is going to make taking transit even easier and improve the customer experience. [11]

In the future, there will be a "connected car that makes paying for things, like gas and parking" announced by Visa and Honda. "Drivers will be able to view and complete their purchases to smart parking meters and fuel pumps directly from their Honda consoles." Without having to pull out a credit card "can save drivers time, get them to their destinations faster and more efficiently, and may ultimately make them safer down the road". [12]

Smart Cities around the World


The cities of Vancouver and Surrey are partnering together to submit a joint application for the Canada Smart Cities Challenge, a nationwide competition encouraging cities to share their best ideas to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data, and connected technology. [13] "The top prize for the winning application is $50 million put towards a smart city transformation." [14] Cities of Vancouver and Surrey are one of the 20 finalists in the Challenge. Both cities are the last 5 finalists in the $50 million prize category. [15]

Vancouver and Surrey will implement Canada's first two collision-free multi-modal transportation corridors, taking an ambitious step toward improving our residents' quality of life by removing transportation safety risk, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing transportation efficiency. The two collision-free corridors will be equipped with smart mobility solutions related to autonomous shuttles, smart mobility infrastructure, advanced data and analytics, and enhanced user experience. "VanConnect provides access to City Hall services on the go, is an example of how Vancouver is digitally transforming into a leading smart city." [16] "Citizens can report garbage, graffiti, broken street lights by giving a short description, GPS the location, or upload a photo." The My Surrey App is a convenient way for residents to engage and interact with the city.[17] Free public WiFi can be accessed in 550 locations across Vancouver and more than 40 key locations in Surrey.

New York

"For the second year in a row, New York has been declared the smartest city in the world, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index", which analyses all aspects that create sustainability and quality of life in 180 key world cities.[18] "The index is prepared by IESE Business School's Center for Globalization and Strategy under the direction of professors Pascual Berrone and Joan Enric Ricart."[19] The smart city is determined under the nine factors, including its ability to attract and nurture "human capital, social cohesion, economy, environment, governance, urban planning, international outreach, technology, and transportation".[20] New York City is in first place in the overall ranking, thanks to its performance in the dimensions of the economy (position 1), urban planning (position 1), international outreach (position 3), human capital (position 4), mobility and transportation (position 4), and technology (position 5).[21]

Under the economic dimension, "New York achieves relatively high levels in all indicators but stands out especially for its high GDP and for the number of publicly traded parent companies. It is the world’s most important economic center and is therefore ranked first in the economic dimension". "New York also ranks first in the urban planning dimension. It is notable for its very well-developed infrastructure, with a large number of buildings and skyscrapers. It is one of the cities with the highest concentration of skyscrapers in the world and also has one of the largest collections of office buildings and residential towers in the world. It is worth noting that almost 100% of the population has access to adequate sanitation facilities and that the city has a low number of people per household. Likewise, it is in the top five for the dimensions of human capital, mobility and transportation, and international outreach".[22]

"In New York, advanced solid-state traffic controllers and real-time information are helping its department of transportation to control traffic in a smart way, through an initiative called “Midtown in Motion”. "LinkNYC" provides ultra-high speed free Wi-Fi and free domestic phone calls, as well as free cell phone charging stations, by installing more than 7,500 high-tech public communications structures. Moreover, approximately 100 air pollutant monitors have been installed in New York as part of the “Community Air Survey” initiative. In order to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, “Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency program” saves 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide as well as over $2 million per year by installing Vacancy Sensors across 90 schools. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions and save money, the “Print Smart” initiative reduces the number of printing devices which has so far resulted in a 71% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions associated with printing as well as savings of $1.7 million. The NYC Housing Authority launched “The MyNYCHA” mobile application to allow public housing residents to manage their housing services via their smartphone and tablets."[23]


Data & Security

One of the key concerns relating to a smart city is the privacy. Since data are collected and managed often by people, there are concerns regarding the security of these data. The presence of the risk of data collected by citizens being exposed through hacking or misuse is a serious threat as some of these data are sensitive and very private in nature. An example would be one's medical history. Also, the presence of sensors and camera that are used to collect data may be perceived as an invasion of privacy or government surveillance. To mitigate this challenge, one possible solution may be to collect anonymized data and not personally identifiable information. [24]

Sensory Overload & Power supply

Since the whole idea of the smart city heavily depends on data, sensors are a mandatory element for the smart city's success. A city needs sensors to see, hear, smell, taste and feel on its behalf. For things as simple as how much foot traffic a certain block of the city has, to the average power consumption of the city, these are all insights driven from data collected by sensors all around the city. As a result, a massive amount of sensors needs to be distributed all around the city. According to Lux Research, the world will deploy 1 trillion sensors by 2020. This means "if you have 1 million people deploying sensors, each person needs to deploy a million of them within three years." [25] There is also concerns regarding the power as well. Hatem Zeine, the founder and CTO of Ossia, states that "with our current energy paradigms, powering 1 trillion sensors, let alone a million in a single city would not be possible without wireless power." However, today, there are many companies that are developing the wireless power such as Ossia, that resembles the functionality of Wi-Fi but for power, in an effort to solve problems regarding power in the near future. [26]


Nowadays, most cities are not built for the smart city. Instead, the idea is to transfer the current big modern city to smart city through the technology add-ons. This is where the problem arises. Since the original city has already established policies that are not suitable for the new ‘smart city’, policymakers will be tasked with the role of delicately balancing the potential benefits and threats to ensure the success of smart cities in alignment with the preservation of the rights of the citizens along with the city before it gets transformed into a smart city. If the strong and balanced policy fails to be established prior to the transformation, many problems such as the inability to enforce punishment or inability to even govern citizens will eventually arise. Since a strong and balanced policy usually takes a relatively long time to be established, there are rising concerns regarding policies on smart cities.


Sensor-enabled smart cities are paving the way for a more sustainable future, from urban planning to social conscience. Today, 54% of people worldwide live in cities. It is expected that by 2050, the number would increase to 66%.[27] Combined with the overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades. [28] As a result, environmental, social, and economic sustainability has been a growing issue, leading over 190 countries to agree on goals for establishing sustainable growth. [29] This is the reason why smart cities are considered as a high potential investment, despite the fact that it required high investment cost. According to some experts, "the world will invest a total of about $41 trillion over the next 20 years to upgrade their infrastructure and benefit from the network of connected devices known as the Internet of Things." [30] Although it is evident that we are still at the start of the smart cities revolution and the full economic, environmental and social benefits are yet to be achieved, as the solutions that smart cities can provide to the rising concerns of increasing population can greatly impact our future society, we conclude that it is important for people to understand what smart city is, and potential benefits that such a revolution can bring to our everyday life. [31]


Karen Chan Donghan Lee Clement Zhang
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada


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