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List of Top Smart Cities in the World – [Full Analysis]

The term “smart cities” is a bit ambiguous. Some people choose a narrow definition—i.e. cities that use information and communication technologies to deliver services to their citizens. I prefer a broader definition: Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint—all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.

Here, then, are the top smart cities:

Barcelona

Barcelona-At-Night

Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain and Spain’s second most populated city, with a population of 1.6 million within its administrative limits. Its urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.7 million people, being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan.It is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 ft) high.

The Barcelona Smart City programme includes seven strategic initiatives:

Smart Lighting: Barcelona developed a master plan in 2012 that includes projects to remotely control street level lighting in addition to transitioning 50 streets and a total of 1,155 lampposts to LED technology.

Smart Energy: From smart grid projects to self-sufficient blocks, the City has developed a programme to achieve greater energy efficiency and has currently deployed more than 19,500 smart metres in the Olympic Villa.

Smart Water: Barcelona is well on its way to implementing a programme that includes remote irrigation control for the City’s green spaces. Thus far, 77 fountains are controlled remotely.

District Heating and Cooling: Two networks provide hot water in 64 buildings spanning an area of 21km.

Smart Transportation: The City developed a master plan in 2012 to improve public transport efficiency by deploying orthogonal bus lines, five of which began running in October 2012.

Zero Emissions Mobility: As part of an extensive plan to foster the use of electric vehicles, Barcelona is deploying electric charging stations, as well as electric vehicle fleets and car rentals. To date, the city has more than 500 hybrid taxis, 294 public electric vehicles, 262 recharging points, 130 electric motorbikes and an estimated 400 private electric vehicles on its streets.

Open Government: The City has developed a programme to make municipal government activities more transparent to its citizens, starting with the deployment of 44 “citizen’s attention” kiosks and the launch of an Open Data portal in 2010.

Stockholm

Stockholm At Night

Green IT strategy for the City of Stockholm

Green IT is the collective name for the measures designed to improve environment with the help of IT. It involves using information technology to reduce negative impact on the environment, as well as lowering the energy consumption and environmental impact of the IT sector as a whole.

e-Stockholm – The City of Stockholm’s strategy for e-services and the technology of the future

Efficient public services are key factors in a thriving city and they should be characterised by a common desire to prioritize citizens’ different needs and desires. The city’s responsibility is to provide support and facilitate in everyday life. Applying for permits, schools, elderly care or to plan the commuting rout to work, are just a few examples of popular e-services offered.

One of the world’s most connected cities

Stockholm’s fiber solution is constantly contributing to making the city more attractive to businesses in general and the tech sector in particular.

The goal of the City’s fiber network efforts is to build a competition-neutral infrastructure capable of meeting future communication needs, spur economic activity, diversity and freedom of choice, as well as minimising disruption to the city’s streets. The fiber network in Stockholm is provided and adminstered by Stokab, a company owned by Stockholm City Council.

World leading ICT cluster

Kista Science City is now the natural meeting place for anyone working in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). Since IBM and Ericsson moved to Kista in the 1970s, over 1,000 other ICT companies have followed suit. They now collectively constitute one of the world’s foremost ICT clusters.

Seoul

Seoul At Night

World’s smartest, and cheapest, personal assistants

Haejuseyo chore services will pick up your dry-cleaning and deliver food — and perform more difficult, personalized chores — at the low starting fee of ₩7,000. Maybe that’s why New York’s “The Daily Beast” recently called Korea the laziest country in Asia. They got it wrong, of course. If we weren’t so busy all the time, we wouldn’t need all the extra help.

High-tech bargains

The birthplace of leading global electronics companies such as Samsung and LG, Korea is renowned for its cutting-edge technology. Nowhere is that technology more evident and accessible than at the Yongsan Electronics Market. Dozens of buildings house stores that specialize in one or two of the latest high-tech items. There’s lots of competition to bag the next sale, so haggling is OK.

Cheap Internet phones

For a low monthly fee, you can sign up for an 070 internet phone that gives you free wireless and free calls to other 070 phones. It’s like Skype with a hand-held phone. Cheap rates on international calls clinch this as the greatest phone innovation since Angry Birds.

Superb service; random freebies, no tipping

It’s tough not to smile when your breakfast cereal comes with a free pair of socks or your latest clothing purchase bags you a designer kitchen knife. Seoulites love dishing out freebies, the more random, the better. Known simply as “service,” free gifts can be anything from a packet of Kleenex with a full tank of gas to a plate of chicken with your pitcher of Hite beer. The perfectionist jeongshin (mentality) of the service industry in Seoul ensures incredibly cheerful service. Best of all: no tipping.

Smart homes

Smart phones and robot vacuum cleaners — yawn. Apartments in Seoul can now be controlled from cell phones and central keypads. Samsung Electronics reps say that facial-recognition will soon be introduced as an addition to bio-recognition security systems.

24-hour study rooms

In a country where education is one of the most sensitive topics (15 percent of the average household income is spent on after-school tutoring), 24-hour study rooms provide an intense and quiet atmosphere. Rooms are divided into rows of cubicles that can be rented for as little as ₩7,000 a day.

Best airport in the world

For five years running, Incheon International Airport, which services Seoul and other nearby Korean cities, has been ranked the best airport in the world by Airports Council International. The sprawling, über-efficient facility is equipped with a golf course, skating rink, Museum of Korean Culture, casino, high-end spa and restaurants serving just about any kind of pre-flight meal you’d want.

World’s most wired city

Welcome to the next generation IT mega-city. In Seoul, you can’t avoid wireless access even if you want to — a staggering 95 percent of Korean households have broadband connection.

San Francisco

San Francisco At Night

This city has a reputation for being innovative when it comes to technology, and with Silicon Valley nearby and a large number of Internet-based companies making their homes there, it’s not difficult to see why. San Francisco is a global leader in smart-city projects, with one of its claims to fame being that it provides its residents with a large number of free WiFi hotspots. In fact on Market Street, a main road downtown, there’s actually three whole miles of free WiFi.

But where the city really excels is in green and sustainability initiatives. It is a leader in recycling, mandating that its residents separate their garbage into three categories: recycling, compost, and landfill waste. They also encourage their citizens to participate in energy conservation by providing them with mobile and web access to precise, near real-time energy use data and advice on how they can save. The city also provides more than 100 charging stations in various locations to promote the use of hybrid and electric cars and reduce automobile-related pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The San Francisco Sustainable Development program evolved from creative and collaborative partnerships that generated the recent sustainable design components of signature projects such as the Transit Center, Treasure Island, Candlestick Park/Hunters Point, and the Eco-District framework for a sustainable San Francisco. It is a work in progress of exploration and innovation. It extends emerging trends around systems thinking and ecological planning, design, and development to San Francisco planning opportunities, thereby fostering connection, community, and sustainability in the context of climate change.

Eco-District Initiative

San Francisco joined the 2030 District Initiative, the eighth city to commit to dramatic reductions in energy and water use in commercial buildings – 50% by 2030. San Francisco has been working behind the scenes for 2 years with an industry stakeholder group to put the plan together; it is a real private-public partnership. Thez have 24 committed member buildings located in downtown San Francisco comprising about 9mm square feet, and growing up to 150mm square feet.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen At Night

The capital of Denmark, it has a population of 1,3 million people (almost 2 million if we include the metropolitan area).

Life science, information technology, shipping, research & development play a major role in the city’s economy. Copenhagen has been considered as one of the cities with the best quality of life, and now it is considered as well as one of the most important Smart Cities around the world.

Denmark has decided to lead the transition to become a green growth economy entirely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. The business of introducing sustainability into a city like Copenhagen changes the patterns of production and consumption, growth and employment.

In its bid to introduce more sustainability into the city, Copenhagen has applied different smart solutions like the following:

The Harbour turns blue

A complete modernisation of the sewage system has allowed for an improved water quality, while opening a public harbour bath. An under utilised part of the city centre has now become a strong urban recreation space.

Meeting the rising demand for water

The adoption of innovative technologies and policies (prevention of leaks, pricing mechanisms to reduce wasteful consumption, engineering solutions and better management of storm water) allowes for a reduced consumption of water, while protecting the groundwater resources.

Cycling

It is now integral to urban planning and design, allowing for a low-expense, quick, safe and convenient way of getting around.

Integration of public transport

Investment on an efficient, reliable and highly integrated public transport network, making the levels of congestion and pollution one of the lowest of the major international cities. The number of car trips in the central part of Copenhagen fell from 351,000 in 1970 to 284,900 in 2010.

Making the most of waste

Copenhagen has been able to send less than 2% of waste to landfill. Half of the waste is recycled and maximum use is made of waste to generate heat for the city’s district heating network.

Wind power

22% of Denmark’s total electrical consumption is produced from wind turbines, the highest rated in the world. In Copenhagen a renewable energy infrastructure has been introduced through a unique partnership based on local ownership.

Keeping the system warm efficiently by using a district heating system:

It is the largest and most successful system in the world, supplying 98% of the city with reliable and affordable heating.

Keeping cool under CO2 pressure

Copenhagen has built the first two district cooling networks, based on free cooling from sea water abstraction, along with running surplus from the district heating network.

Singapore

Singapore At Night

Singapore is unique in that it is a city-state. As a nation, it has recently unveiled a bold Smart Singapore strategy which aims to convert the city-state to the first true smart nation through a range of initiatives leverage intelligence, integration and innovation to become a major player on the world stage. Part of this strategy involves the rollout of smart boxes containing sensors and connected via fiber optic cables which will sense the city and deliver real-time information to cities and citizens.

Clean and organized city, the city has excellent public transit and a handful of powerful incentives to discourage personal vehicle use, like an advanced electronic road pricing scheme and very high permit and sales tax rates for new vehicles. The city also has a very active smart governance program including a strong commitment to online service delivery (98% of all government services are accessible online). Singapore is very committed to greening its infrastructure reflected in the fact it has 2,155 certified green buildings, by far the most of the responding cities

London

London At Night

The congestion charge, the oyster card ticket system, wifi on the underground and Boris Bikes, are all examples of smart transport solutions to be found in London. A smart parking service, which uses sensors in car parking spaces and map data to show availability is being trialled in Westminster.

The city’s transport authority Transport For London, is using its data to make products and services for smartphones that make it easier to navigate and use. London’s government is also extending a similar tactic to help create apps in other areas, such as leisure, health and environment. The city has created a “Smart London” board to investigate how to best use technology to improve the city.