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Abstract

This paper provides evidence-based policy recommendations about the development of smart cities. The core characteristics of smart cities, including the use of advanced technology, human and social capital development, the development of pro-business environments and networking, are ‘translated’ into individual domains that characterize smart city strategies. Four major European cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Stockholm) are examined in terms of how they have so far incorporated those domains in their ongoing smart city strategies. The data are analyzed comparatively, highlighting trends and contrasting differences among strategies. The paper closes with conclusions about those characteristics and their role in smart city policy making.
International Journal of Social Science Studies
Vol. 4, No. 4; April 2016
ISSN 2324-8033 E-ISSN 2324-8041
Published by Redfame Publishing
URL: http://ijsss.redfame.com
18
Four European Smart City Strategies
Margarita Angelidou1
1Urban and Regional Innovation Research Unit, School of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Correspondence: Margarita Angelidou, Urban and Regional Innovation Research Unit, Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 491, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece.
Received: February 7, 2016 Accepted: February 24, 2016 Available online: March 3, 2016
doi:10.11114/ijsss.v4i4.1364 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v4i4.1364
Abstract
This paper provides evidence-based policy recommendations about the development of smart cities. The core
characteristics of smart cities, including the use of advanced technology, human and social capital development, the
development of pro-business environments and networking, are „translated‟ into individual domains that characterize
smart city strategies. Four major European cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Stockholm) are examined in
terms of how they have so far incorporated those domains in their ongoing smart city strategies. The data are analyzed
comparatively, highlighting trends and contrasting differences among strategies. The paper closes with conclusions
about those characteristics and their role in smart city policy making.
Keywords: urban development; strategy; policy; sustainability; society; technology
1. Introduction
The technological advancements of recent decades have had not only a powerful, but also a transformative impact on
urban life. The wide availability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in urban settings and their
broad adoption throughout society have created a state of technological ubiquity in developed countries. As technology
advances and becomes more affordable, the functionality and sustainability of urban systems undergoes significant
advancements as well. At the same time, increased access to information enforces the role of knowledge as a powerful
engine of economic growth. This enables the development of knowledge-based societies. Under these continuously
evolving conditions, many concepts about the organization and management of the new technological capabilities have
become popular, including the one of „smart cities‟.
Inspired by the above situation and the recent literature, this paper aims to illustrate the state-of-play of applied smart
city strategies in large European cities and then reach conclusions about the current idea of what it means to be „smart
in a city context. This is achieved by exploring how the core characteristics of the smart city idea have been
incorporated so far in four ongoing European smart city strategies (Amsterdam Smart City, Barcelona Smart City, Smart
London Plan and Stockholm Smart City).
The paper is structured accordingly. The following section (2) starts by presenting the smart city idea and pointing out
the defining characteristics of smart cities, as they have been documented in the recent literature. These characteristics
include (i) the central role of technology as an enabler of effective infrastructure and recourse management, (ii) the role
of human and social capital as sources of knowledge dissemination and new knowledge creation, (iii) the development
of pro-business environments pro-business environments attracting investment and spawning new businesses and (iv)
the increasing importance of collaboration and networking of city authorities in pooling recourses, exchanging
knowledge and attracting citizens and businesses. The third section of the paper (3) describes how the presented
research was conducted, including the data, cases and analysis methods that were used. The fourth section (4) presents
the empirical findings about each case of a smart city strategy and explores each of the previous characteristics through
a critical lens, reaching conclusions about each of them individually. The last section of the paper (5) discusses the
conclusions that emerge from the previous review about the smart city movement as a whole.
2. The ‘Smart city’ movement and its characteristics
2.1 The smart city idea
There are fundamental disagreements about the meaning and the dimensions of the smart city, while many cities claim
to be „smart‟ without evidence-based justification (Komninos, 2011a; Chourabi et al., 2012; Nam and Pardo, 2011a;
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
19
Papa et al., 2013; Allwinkle and Cruickshank, 2011; Wolfram, 2012; Lombardi et al., 2012; Hollands, 2008). The
discussion is ongoing, fueled by a multitude of definitions and solutions in the smart cities‟ arena, without a prevalent or
universally acknowledged set as of yet. In this context, no city can actually claim that it has conquered smartness fully;
rather, as technologies and societies are changing dynamically, the smart city is called to redefine itself and experiment
with new ways of thinking about technology, and how this technology can be used to enhance common good.
Smart cities represent a conceptual development model that aspires to use ICTs for the development of a city‟s human,
collective, and technological capital, with the ultimate scope of increasing urban sustainability. They constitute an idea
for the ideal future of an urban settlement that harnesses technology. They also imply integrated processes to realize this
idea. In the best case scenario, a city that aspires to become „smart‟ has an integrated, forward-looking strategic plan
that defines a vision and a methodology based on capitalizing digital technologies to improve urban functions and
develop knowledge ecosystems. As any strategy, it is important that strategic plans for smart cities are adapted to the
needs, priorities and constraints of their circumstances.
Recent estimations speak of 143 (Lee and Gong Hancock, 2012), 300-400 (Nikkei BP Cleantech Institute, 2010) and
102 smart city projects worldwide (ABI Research, 2011). It is difficult to estimate the exact number of smart city
projects undergoing implementation in the different parts of the world because of abundant disagreements. Beyond
doubt, however, they are popular and, for that matter, „fashionable‟ in the policy arena (Lombardi et al., 2012; Kourtit
and Nijkamp, 2012; Kourtit and Nijkamp, 2013). This situation complicates efforts to define the real meaning of
„smartness‟ in a city context and clearly distinguish a smart city‟s characteristics.
2.2 Characteristics of smart cities
As mentioned previously, the concept of the smart city emerged recently and is constantly being transformed by
contemporary technological and economic trends and ongoing discussions. Nevertheless, in order to be able to study a
number of applied smart city strategies comparatively, it is first essential to point out the general characteristics that
define what it means to be „smart‟ in an urban context . Based on these characteristics, we will proceed in the later
sections of this paper to investigate how four actual smart city strategies have been designed and implemented so far.
The first distinctive characteristic of smart cities is the central role of technology as a means for accumulating,
organizing and making vast amounts of information accessible to an increasing number of people, subsequently using
this information to improve urban functions and save recourses. As technologies become more affordable and the urban
environment gets extensively instrumented with sensors, real-time data streams and the Internet of Things (IoT)
emerge. If we add to this the rising interest of people and communities to log their own data about their lives and
activities, the volume of collected data becomes vast. Not only can a city‟s functions be monitored constantly, but also,
with the help of advanced analytics, they can be audited to identify prevailing patterns and trends, predict incidents
before they even occur and adjust the provision of services and goods depending on the circumstances. Public
authorities can make better-informed and documented decisions and solve problems successfully, while the city‟s
populace can access efficient and high-end services in the domains of economic activity, governance, quality of life and
utility management (Komninos, 2011a; Komninos, 2011b; Schaffers et al., 2011). This technologically-enabled
ecosystem yields improvements of a city‟s functions, enhancing environmental sustainability and rendering the city
„smart‟ (Allwinkle and Cruickshank, 2011; Caragliu et al., 2009; Tranos and Gertner, 2012; Angelidou, 2014).
The second quality of smart cities is the advancement of human and social capital through knowledge creation and
dissemination, advanced participation and digital inclusion, and the establishment of new forms of innovation (open,
social). In smart cities, a large fraction of the available knowledge is produced collectively; knowledge is an asset that
stems from everybody‟s contribution. Smart cities attract highly qualified people and a skilled labor force because of
their openness and their eagerness to use technology in effective and innovative ways. They attract creative people who
build creative cultures and industries, which in turn foster the development of knowledge ecosystems that bring
prosperity to the city. In addition, it is now well documented that creative, intelligent and highly skilled people are the
most powerful engines of urban development (Edvinsson, 2006; Glaeser and Berry, 2006; Shapiro, 2006; Florida, 2002;
2005; Landry, 2000); they produce new ideas, products and strategies, either individually, or in collaboration within
social networks (Komninos, 2009). The „crowd‟ can be smart; collective intelligence is more powerful than any
machine or individual intelligence (Ratti and Townsend, 2011). In parallel, smart city programs provide platforms for
engaging citizens and stakeholders and assessing the viability of smart city solutions and services in real-life contexts
(Carter et al., 2011; Bria, 2012; González and Rossi, 2012). Overall, the city benefits widely from localized knowledge
spillovers, collective intelligence functions and the development of inclusive communities that confront the challenges
and grasp the opportunities of the rising digital economy (Allwinkle and Cruickshank, 2011; Caragliu et al., 2009;
Tranos and Gertner, 2012; Hollands, 2008; Angelidou et al., 2012; Angelidou, 2014).
The smart city movement is also geared towards the advancement of the business sector, to be realized through a high
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
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record of entrepreneurial agility, investment attraction and new business creation. Smart cities, as documented in the
recent bibliography, are characterised by a distinctive emphasis on business-led urban development and attraction of
capital. They aim to forge business-friendly environments offering advanced services to businesses and entrepreneurs.
They also claim to nurture the development of highly professional entrepreneurial environments, providing the ideal
preconditions for businesses to prosper, innovate and network (Caragliu et al., 2009; Hollands, 2008; Tranos and
Gertner, 2012). Furthermore, in the EU‟s current policy framework, RIS3 strategies for smart specialization call, among
others, entrepreneurial actors to explore opportunities in existing or new sectors and experiment with new activities, to
pin-point the most promising areas for future regional development (Foray et al., 2012). On the whole, both European
policies and the smart city movement place a distinct priority in advancing and diversifying the entrepreneurial
environments of cities.
Finally, critical thinking about smart cities emphasizes networking within and among cities and regions, for purposes of
image making, best practice dissemination, production base diversification and the establishment of economies of scale.
In today‟s knowledge economy and culture, city authorities find themselves increasingly under pressure to offer more
innovative and high quality services, while increasing public endorsement. Cities are geared towards creating alliances
and collaboration networks to exchange knowledge and coordinate recourses, while bringing out the diversity and
unique character of their locus; most cities already have such alliances in place. Marketing and communication
techniques have penetrated strategies for future urban development, including smart cities. Authorities attempt to
communicate their smart city plans to the public by sharing concepts (promotional identity and brand), visions, goals,
priorities, and even strategic plans (Nam and Pardo, 2011b) and by publishing annual reports, including performance
data and statistics (Bélissent, 2011). Networking is today realized primarily thought online digital media (websites,
social media, wikis etc.) and in a European context, through trans-regional and trans-national collaboration, especially
in the field of smart cities.
3. Research Design
This section describes how the research presented in this paper was designed, including the data, cases and analysis
method that were used and why they were chosen.
3.1 Data Selection and Accumulation
First was decided the information that would be collected about smart city strategies. Taking into account the
framework of the available literature, the characteristics of smart cities (section 2.2.) were „translated‟ into domains to
be surveyed in each case. The followings show these characteristics and their breakdown:
Characteristic 1: Central role of technology
- Domain 1: Smart technologies and infrastructure: how each smart city strategy approaches technology and
infrastructure
- Domain 2: Digital services and applications: the types of services and applications offered in the context of a
smart city strategy. These can be categorized in the domains of: (i) Economic activity: manufacturing,
commerce, businesses and finance, education, research, health, tourism, primary sector, (ii) City Infrastructure
& Utilities: transport, energy, water, waste, (iii) Quality of Life: social inclusion, social care, safety and
security, environmental alert and (iv) City Governance: city hall services, citizen participation, informed
top-level decision-making, monitoring and benchmarking (Komninos, 2011a).
Characteristic 2: Human and social capital advancement
- Domain 1: Education and training: smart city strategies that promote infrastructures, institutions, and
programs for high quality and innovative undergraduate/ postgraduate/ vocational education.
- Domain 2: Social & Digital Inclusion: the main drive behind the smart city strategy: Social inclusion,
addressing the digital divide, accessibility, closing of skills gap, etc.
- Domain 3: Bottom-up approach: in the context of the smart city, a bottom-up approach refers to the
involvement of the city‟s people, interest groups and organizations (i.e. „stakeholders‟) in all or some stages of
the smart city development. With engagement, users with different knowledge domains and levels, skills,
experiences, roles, points of view and needs contribute to the success of the smart city.
- Domain 4: Experimentation and testing of new products and solutions: pilot programs and test beds are
platforms that are used to assess the viability of specific solutions and services or to engage citizens and
stakeholders. They are useful in delivering proof of concept, testing specific tools and techniques and
validating and perfecting the proposed strategic framework.
- Domain 5: Culture shift: smart city strategies driving a culture shift throughout society, for example, towards
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
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environmental awareness, a technology savvy society, a participatory society, creative and innovative thinking,
etc.
Characteristic 3: Business sector advancement
- Domain 1: Measures for Business sector development: these include measures for attracting and developing
innovative businesses and knowledge workers: (i) financial incentives (tax exemptions, bank loans with
privileged interest rates, business angels, seed funding, venture capital etc.) (ii) business incubation services
(growth assistance for startup and early-stage companies) and (iii) technology transfer and commercialization
services (intellectual property protection, industrial support of ongoing Research and Development (R&D),
collaboration platforms with academia, industry and government).
Characteristic 4: Networking
- Domain 1: Partnerships and alliances: Partnership with other cities for knowledge and experience exchange, in
order to disseminate best practices, develop complementarities in weak and strong points, coordinate recourses
and create economies of scale.
- Domain 2: Marketing: A dedicated strategy about how the smart city organization will create, deliver and
communicate the value of the project to the wider audience, so as to gain broader support and acceptance. This
may include promotional events to market the smart city project, participation in
conferences/competitions/awards, a branding strategy, etc.
- Domain 3: Digital presence (website, social media): A website to make the smart city project known to a broader
audience and provide information for stakeholders. Presence on common social media (city-operated blog,
Facebook, Flickr, FourSquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo).
3.2 Case selection
Four major European cities that are in the process of developing or implementing a smart city strategy were selected to
be studied: Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Stockholm. Their selection took place considering the following
criteria:
- Conformation with the working definition of the „smart city‟ (section 2.1)
- The existence of an integrated smart city strategy, to the extent possible
- The degree of data availability
The data was sourced through academic articles published in scientific journals and conferences, academic and
corporate research reports, government documents, corporate documents and non-scientific articles published during the
period January 2014- September 2014 on online sources (technology websites, online newspapers and blogs, etc.)
3.3 Case selection
The analysis method that was used is the Multiple case study analysis
1
(Miles et al., 2013; Yin, 2003; Eisenhardt, 1989),
is a type of qualitative analysis that presents and compares the main findings of qualitative research in a detailed and
systematic way. In order to perform the multiple case study analysis, cross-case matrices were developed (presented in
the Appendix 1 of this paper). These matrices allow comparison of findings systematically across cases and analyze
similarities, differences and patterns of behavior.
4. Results
4.1 Empirical Findings
The first smart city strategy that was studied is Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Amsterdam Smart City is being realized
through a partnership among businesses, authorities, research institutions, and the people of Amsterdam (over 70
partners, including CISCO and IBM). The aim of this partnership is the transformation of the Amsterdam metropolitan
area into a smart city with the ultimate goal of reducing CO2 emissions. Amsterdam‟s smart city platform connects all
of the city‟s stakeholders through „smart‟ collaborations; it brings them together with the purpose of developing and
implementing shared ideas and solutions for the city. Currently the program comprises 32 projects that present
innovative ideas and new business models across Amsterdam‟s neighborhoods. These projects fall within seven „areas
of interest‟: Smart Mobility, Smart Living, Smart Society, Smart Areas, Smart Economy, Big & Open Data and
Infrastructure (water, roads, energy, ICT). Initially, they are to be tested on a small scale and the ones that prove to be
effective will be extended to larger areas. All projects are built around informing citizens, entrepreneurs and the public
sector about their energy consumption and educating them about how to manage it more prudently. To achieve this,
1
also known as „ cross-case analysis‟
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
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smart devices and wireless meters transmit information over broadband networks helping the citizens and organizations
of the city to behave more „intelligently‟ by reducing their energy consumption. Two well-known projects of
Amsterdam Smart City are the „Climate Street‟ and the „West Orange‟ project. They are a commercial and a residential
area respectively, where smart and energy-saving technologies were introduced along with smart meters and energy
displays with the purpose of encouraging users to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint (Amsterdam Smart City
official website, 2014; Baron, 2012; Šťáhlavský, 2011; Sauer, 2012).
The next strategy was the one for the Smart City of Barcelona, Spain. The City of Barcelona has been using ICTs to
improve urban functions for more than a decade now, with dispersed projects running in various departments. Barcelona
also has a long experience in Living Lab initiatives and is in the process of developing a formal smart city strategy. The
Urban Habitat Department (the so called „Smart City‟ department) was created after a major organizational reform. It is
a new umbrella structure to coordinate services previously provisioned by individual City Departments regarding
infrastructure, ICTs, urban services, urban planning, environment, housing, architecture, energy and water, etc. Under
this new organizational scheme, previously isolated government departments are called to coordinate their strategy in
order to achieve common goals. In addition, the formal strategy has a global outlook, seeking to forge an open
environment for the collaboration among government, industry, academia and citizens. It comprises three individual
axes: „international promotion‟, „international collaboration‟ and „local projects‟. The number of local projects is over
100 some examples include the New Municipal Network, Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Smart Lighting, Smart
Water, Smart Transportation, Smart Citizens, O-Government & Efficiency and Optimized Waste Collection (Barcelona
Smart City official website, 2014; Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2013; Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2012; Bakici et al., 2012).
The next smart city strategy studied is London‟s „Smart London Plan‟. In London, the first concerted effort to use smart
city applications took place in 2012, with the purpose of managing public transport under the demanding circumstances
of that year‟s Olympic Games. Eventually, in 2013, the Smart London Board was created, comprising academics,
businesses and entrepreneurs, commissioned to advise the Greater London Authority on smart city matters. The Board
produced the Smart London Plan, organized around seven key themes: (1) placing Londoners at the core of innovation,
(2) providing access to open data, (3) leveraging London‟s research technology and creative talent, (4) facilitating
networking among and with other smart city stakeholders (5) enabling „smarter‟ infrastructure development and
management (6) providing more effective and integrated City Hall services and (7) offering a „smarter‟ London
experience for all. The plan includes a series of actions and measures of success for each key theme. London‟s smart
city strategy is mostly focused around the institutional and digital space, rather than the physical. However, it also
includes some improvements and new developments in infrastructure, as well as urban regeneration projects. The most
important one is „Here East‟, a 1,200,000 sq. ft. digital quarter to be developed at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,
leveraging the buildings of the former Press and Broadcast Centers of the 2012 Olympics. It will be a campus that
supports growth of London‟s technology sector, combining business, technology, media, education and data to create a
local system of innovation. As such, it will provide space for start-ups, education and post-graduate research (Greater
London Authority official website, 2013; Fletcher-Smith, 2014; Malthouse, 2014).
In the case of Stockholm Smart City, Sweden, the data collection process has already been completed. Stockholm has a
long tradition in research and innovation in environmental and information technology. It also has a well-established
culture as a livable and sustainable city that offers high living standards and efficient government services. Stokab is the
name of the city-owned company which has been developing and managing the city‟s open fiber-optic communications
network and promoting optimal conditions for ICT development since 1994. Today Stokab offers 100% broadband
coverage within the Stockholm region. In Stockholm‟s smart city strategy, environmental and information technologies
are tested and used extensively throughout the city‟s infrastructure, with the purpose of creating a flourishing ecosystem
that involves the city‟s inhabitants, the private industry and the public sector, while fostering a dynamic local economy.
The strategy is citizen-centric, focusing on providing enhanced e-government services to citizens. Government services
include online City Hall services and services for mobility and energy improvement based on real-time data collection
about traffic and weather. The data are collected through Global Positioning Systems (GPS) placed on public vehicles,
as well as traffic and weather sensors, pollution monitoring equipment, etc. Residents have real-time information about
traffic flow, journey times, and best travel options, including a journey planner. The City is also using pilot projects to
test technology solutions but in a different light than most of its counterpart smart cities: it uses large scale, real
environment test beds, called „demonstrators‟. One of those demonstrators, for example, is „Kista Science City‟,
Sweden‟s world-class ICT cluster, where Research and Development (R&D) and technology transfer take place
between businesses and the academia, demonstrating an exemplary concentration of expertise, innovation and business
opportunities in the ICT field. Another demonstrator is the „Royal Seaport‟ area, which is being redeveloped into a
„smart‟ area with a capacity of 20,000 residents and 50,000 workers, to be used for testing innovative technologies and
services in health care, energy and transport (Stockholm smart city official website, 2014; Johnson, 2014; Stockholm
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
23
Royal Seaport Innovation official website, 2014; The Intelligent Community Forum, 2009).
4.2 Multiple case study analysis results
The previous smart city strategies were screened to acquire information about each smart city characteristic (section 2.2.)
and its constituent Domains (section 3.1.). This information was studied comparatively regarding each characteristic
across the four cases. The results are presented in the following paragraphs.
In terms of technology as a core component of smart city strategies, all four cities invest predominantly in broadband
networking (mostly wireless and optical fiber) and on a second level on sensor networking (sensors on stationary and
mobile devices). Wireless broadband networking is obviously a more convenient option for cities with complex
physical structures already in place. However, Stockholm‟s case of 100% optical fiber coverage is an exemplar that is
the result of proactive policy making and continuous efforts by the City. In terms of digital services and applications,
the foremost frequency is observed in the domain of city infrastructure and utilities, namely energy, transport and waste
management. Government services play an important role, too, encompassing city hall services and means for engaging
citizens in the policy making process. Digital services for the improvement of economic activity and quality of life have
a non-existent or secondary role in the studied smart city strategies, although one would expect the contrary regarding
cities with a long history, culture and established social innovation dynamics. This phenomenon can be explained by the
fact that the current experience, availability and technological maturity of digital services in the domains of city
infrastructure and utilities and government services far outweigh the more „sensitive‟, vaguely defined and largely
untried services in the domains of economic activity and quality of life. The following cross case matrix (Table 1)
summarizes the characteristics of each case:
Table 1. Cross case matrix displaying the status of each case with regard to Characteristic 1: Central role of technology
(source: author‟s elaboration)
City
Domain
Data / Information
Amsterdam
Smart technologies
and infrastructure
Broadband and sensor networking. Innovative technologies for energy
consumption monitoring and renewable energy production.
Digital services and
applications
Services and applications for energy consumption monitoring and renewable
energy production (distributed power generation, energy advice, energy displays,
energy storage, smart meters, smart lighting, electric vehicles, EV charge points,
electric waste collection, sustainable logistics and ultra-fast charging).
Barcelona
Smart technologies
and infrastructure
Broadband and sensor networking. Emphasis on connectivity as a means for better
urban services, public participation, mobility and sustainability.
Digital services and
applications
Services and applications for (i) transport, energy efficiency in buildings and
utilities, waste collection etc., (ii) government services and citizen participation,
(iii) urban resilience.
London
Smart technologies
and infrastructure
Broadband and sensor networking.
Digital services and
applications
Services and applications for (i) infrastructure management (smart grid, smart
waste collection, 3D visualizations of infrastructure and smart transport for people
and freight), (ii) city governance (e.g. „Talk London‟ platform), joint working
across different policy and physical areas, city planning and city management.
Stockholm
Smart technologies
and infrastructure
Mostly broadband networking (through Stockab, the city-owned company that
manages the city‟s open fiber-optic communications network of a 100% broadband
coverage).
Digital services and
applications
Services and applications for (i) mobility and energy consumption improvement
based on real-time data collection about traffic and weather and (ii) government
services (online council meeting, permits, applications).
In terms of human and social capital advancement, and specifically education and training towards „smart‟ people and
economy, the situation appears to be fragmented. Most smart city programs include minimal education and training
activities for individuals, mostly confined to the use of selected „smart‟ devices rather than extending the population‟s
digital skills over the broad spectrum of smart city capabilities and closing the skills gap. The exemplar here is
London‟s smart city strategy, which targets education and training in multiple levels, including physical and digital
educational infrastructure, institutions and targeted programs. Educational institutions have an active role within the
smart city ecosystem, as they are expected to become hubs of innovation in education, collaborative research in edge
sectors and multifaceted social interaction. However, a weak link is documented between academia and industry as well
as government, meaning that new knowledge and innovative ideas face difficulties in circulating, becoming
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
24
commercialized and adopted throughout society.
Social and digital inclusion appears as the most problematic policy area. All strategies regard social and digital
inclusion as related loosely or even completely disconnected with the smart city idea. No mention whatsoever to these
aspects was found in two of the studied smart city strategies (Amsterdam, Stockholm), while one strategy includes it as
priority but does not elaborate the idea further (Barcelona), and another one (London) regards the issue of social and
digital inclusion as a parallel, standalone policy area.
Bottom up approaches, on the other hand, seem to be a smart city domain where experience is starting to bear fruits.
The studied smart city strategies demonstrate an increased understanding of the significance of participatory procedures,
as well as their underlying technological and cognitive processes, which are increasingly becoming common ground in
public policy making. They foresee the collaboration among the cities‟ inhabitants, businesses and public sector as a
source of new and effective knowledge production and as a precursor for the development of open knowledge and
innovation ecosystems. However, there is still work to be done towards extending bottom-up engagement into the
strategy development phase (besides the implementation phase). In the studied cases, the most important vehicles for
bottom-up engagement are primarily Open Data initiatives and, secondarily, Living Labs. Nevertheless, there is still
progress to be made, and as technological advancements enable new forms of collaboration and bottom-up organization,
this domain will not cease to require special attention.
In addition, we observe that testing of smart city solutions is an integral part of smart city strategies. Pilot projects are
useful in delivering proof of concept, testing specific tools and techniques and validating and perfecting solutions and
strategic frameworks. However, the scale and the degree of dispersion behind the testing of those solutions vary. In
Amsterdam and Barcelona most pilot programs test a specific technology on a neighborhood scale -for example, pilot
energy management systems along commercial streets or residential neighborhoods. Other pilot programs in the same
cities extend over multiple points throughout the city -for example electrical vehicle transport systems including
dispersed electric vehicle and charging stations. London‟s strategy includes reasonably fewer and locally concentrated
piloting activities, focusing on so-called „lighthouse‟ projects that demonstrate new approaches. Finally, in Stockholm, a
completely different approach is adopted, prioritizing integrated, large scale test beds, called „demonstrators‟. These
demonstrators forge new, real environments where many smart city services and solutions are tested at the same time;
for example, the Royal Seaport area, with a capacity of 20.000 residents and 50.000 workers, is conceived as one of
these demonstrators; Kista Science City is also classified as a demonstrator. In Stockholm, the thought is that this type
of large-scale demonstrator allows a better understanding of the potential impact of smart city projects.
Inducing a culture shift throughout society is the domain that summarizes the long term effect of all the above domains
and their procedures. The foremost objective in this direction is the establishment of a climate of „openness‟, dialogue
and collaboration among the city‟s inhabitants. Other objectives include the development of tech-savvy and
environmentally aware people and communities. The following cross case matrix (Table 2) summarizes the
characteristics of each case:
Table 2. Cross case matrix displaying the status of each case with regard to Characteristic 2: Human and social capital
advancement (source: author‟s elaboration)
City
Domain
Data / Information
Amsterdam
Education and training
No large scale or integrated education and training activities. Some training to facilitate the
implementation of the initiatives, for ex. how to monitor energy consumption devices and how to use
open data.
Social & Digital
Inclusion
No information.
Bottom-up approach
Collaboration among the city‟s stakeholders, including its people and knowledge institutions to
develop knowledge and innovation ecosystems. Both in strategy development and strategy
implementation. Open data and Living Lab initiatives.
Experimentation
City seen as platform for testing innovative ideas and solutions. Projects, ideas and business models
are initially tested on a small scale and the ones that prove to be effective will be extended to include
other areas.
Culture shift
Towards sensible energy consumption and sustainable ways of living. Towards a climate of openness
and exchange of innovative ideas.
Barcelona
Education and training
Universities are invited to collaborate with research centers and businesses to formulate 'smart '
clusters.
Social & Digital
Inclusion
Social cohesion and accessibility are stated as primary goals. It is not obvious, however, how this will
be achieved through the foreseen smart city programs.
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
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Bottom-up approach
The city's ingenuity, innovation and talent (entrepreneurs, businesses, universities, institutions etc.)
are expected to contribute to making Barcelona more innovative. Mostly in strategy implementation
and less in strategy development. Open data and Living Lab initiatives.
Experimentation
Aim to establish the City as an international benchmark platform for innovative solutions. The
22@Urban Lab encompasses 14 pilot programs and aims to use the city as a laboratory of new
solutions for marketing municipal services, and also for companies to use as a space for testing,
facilitating market access and promoting competitiveness.
Culture shift
Towards a climate of cooperation, openness and flexibility.
London
Education and training
Education for developing digital technology (not just consuming it). Increase of computer science
uptake in London‟s schools. Program for training of young people with tech city firms. „Tech City
Institute‟ will provide a space for the discussion of the role that technology can play in the city's
development.
Social & Digital
Inclusion
Pan-London digital inclusion strategy about how to address digital exclusion.
Bottom-up approach
Bottom-up engagement is a focal point of the strategy. The city's people, businesses and other
stakeholders are seen as indispensable sources of innovation. Open data initiative.
Experimentation
Small number of project-based pilots. „Lighthouse‟ projects to demonstrate new approaches at scale.
Culture shift
Towards a climate of cooperation among the city's stakeholders.
Stockholm
Education and training
The City offers e-learning packages on issues such as environmental-friendly practices and Green IT
to the City‟s employees, students and companies. The city's universities and research centers have an
active role in the smart city strategy providing educational programs and engaging in R&D in related
fields.
Social & Digital
Inclusion
No information.
Bottom-up approach
The city's inhabitants, private industry and public sector are called to collaborate to produce
knowledge collectively. Open data initiative.
Experimentation
City open to using pilots to test technology solutions, through large scale, real environment test beds,
called “demonstrators” (e.g. „Kista Science City‟ and „Royal Seaport‟ area).
Culture shift
Towards a climate of tech-savvy people and communities. Locals are well trained and early adopters
of new technology.
Proceeding to the third characteristic, all of the four strategies include measures to help their business sector to develop,
but each prioritizes different aspects. The most prominent measure regards technology transfer and commercialization,
focusing on facilitating business networking and collaboration with academia and citizens. Financial support for
business growth follows, involving mostly venture and seed capital funding. Incubation services for early-stage
businesses are also frequent, although somewhat less commonly adopted. The above observations could be explained by
the fact that technology transfer and commercialization stand for capabilities of high added value in innovative
businesses; at the same time, this domain is advancing rapidly thanks to recent technological developments, with the
number of related platforms increasing. On the other hand, nowadays, there is a lot of experience available in business
incubation, while to a large extent it is an affair of the private sector, i.e. it is exercised by private business incubators
which are not formally included in smart city strategies. Overall, one can discern a neoliberal approach towards
business sector development, with businesses expected to determine their own position within the broadband economy,
leverage offered infrastructures to their best interest, and grasp opportunities in a laissez-faire atmosphere for economic
development. The following cross case matrix (Table 3) summarizes the characteristics of each case:
Table 3. Cross case matrix displaying the status of each case with regard to Characteristic 3: Business sector
advancement (source: author‟s elaboration)
City
Data / Information
Amsterdam
Seed funding programs / collaborations with banks. Incubation services. Support in international
networking of local technology companies and startups.
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
26
Barcelona
Capital attractiveness is a secondary priority, compared to technology and human and social capital.
Physical areas for the development of smart city clusters (22@ District and others), equipped with
high-technology infrastructure and collaborative spaces.
London
Support for SMEs to gain access to affordable ultrafast broadband and embrace digital tools. Support of
commercialization of innovation, especially in the technology sector.
Stockholm
Measures for Business sector development
Finally, although smart cities harness digital technology for human and social capital advancement, the overall situation
in terms of networking has not met its target. It is encouraging that all of the cities participate in networks to exchange
knowledge and software, find out about best practices, promote their brand and attract investors and other collaborators
in the venture towards „smartness‟. When it comes to marketing, though, none of them has developed an integrated
marketing strategy. Marketing efforts are limited to occasional participation in international and promotional events.
Barcelona‟s smart city strategy is the only case with an explicit mission to promote the project internationally, although
it is not clearly described how this will be achieved besides the occasional participation/hosting of international events.
The scarce digital presence of the studied smart city strategies is even more alarming; the only one with an integrated
and long-standing website is Amsterdam, while Barcelona‟s website about the smart city project was inaugurated only
recently. The smart city of London and Stockholm, on the other hand, are being promoted through sections in
government websites which, unfortunately, provide limited information about the projects. In terms of social media
presence, the only well-performing one is Amsterdam, demonstrating a frequent activity on multiple social media
channels. The following cross case matrix (Table 4) summarizes the characteristics of each case:
Table 4. Cross case matrix displaying the status of each case with regard to Characteristic 1: Central role of technology
(source: author‟s elaboration)
City
Domain
Data / Information
Amsterdam
Partnerships and
alliances
Alliances with other cities for knowledge exchange.
Marketing
Organized efforts started in summer 2014. Amsterdam Connects‟ program, to promote the
developed solutions to the international market. Brand name.
Digital presence
Website: standalone. Social media: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube.
Barcelona
Partnerships and
alliances
Participation in the City Protocol Society, collaboration with other cities and research
centers.
Marketing
No integrated marketing strategy. Priority to international promotion: participation in
international events, multinational corporate events and international lobbies. Brand name.
Digital presence
Website: standalone. Social media: no. Info about smart city project is communicated via the
City's social media channels.
London
Partnerships and
alliances
Collaboration with other cities with other cities for knowledge exchange. Some dedicated
events.
Marketing
No integrated marketing strategy. No brand name.
Digital presence
Website: section on the website of the Greater London Authority. Social media: no. Info
about smart city project is communicated via the City's social media channels.
Stockholm
Partnerships and
alliances
Rather limited collaboration and networking activities. Some dedicated events that have to
do with specific initiatives, such as Open Data. Awards: 'Green Capital of Europe' (2009),
„Intelligent Community of the Year' (2009).
Marketing
No integrated marketing strategy. No brand name.
Digital presence
Website: section of City's website. Social media: no. Info about smart city project is
communicated via the City's social media channels.
International Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 4, No. 4; 2016
27
5. Conclusion
Apparently, many cities fail to see smart city programs as part of their long-term, comprehensive development plan and,
consequently, they do not engage in methodical strategic planning. However, smart city strategies represent very
important urban development policies that include large investments and long-lasting physical infrastructures. They
yield serious consequences in the delivery of services and the relationship among the public sector, citizens and
businesses, shaping the future of society and governance in the years to come. It is thus essential to study them
methodically and strategically, including all stages of strategy development and capitalizing broadly on of the city‟s
resources.
Undeniably, the defining characteristic of a smart city strategy is the promotion of technological infrastructure
development. Technology and artificial intelligence are indispensable dimensions of a smart city. It seems that cities opt
for tried-out and quick result yielding technological solutions in a variety of domains, with a preference on transport,
energy and waste management. Nevertheless, technology is not an end in itself. Smart city strategies should combine
tested and leading edge technology, rather than focusing on either; the first one secures efficient function and broad
adoption, while the second one promotes new and innovative solutions. Experimenting with new technologies and
solutions is an integral element of smart city strategies, and it can take place to various extents ranging from a city block
to whole neighborhoods or the entire city.
Technology would be useless if it didn‟t promote the development of human and social capital. Strategic planning for
the development of smart cities needs to capitalize on both technological advancement (i.e. digital intelligence) and on
the development of knowledge and innovation networks (i.e. human intelligence); technology underpins the
development of knowledge and vice-versa, improving knowledge dissemination, social innovation and digital inclusion.
Most smart city strategies seek to improve human and social capital by (a) developing their „soft‟ infrastructure, namely
social and education programs to improve accessibility, inclusion, and awareness of the public and/or (b) developing
their „hard infrastructure in form of educational and social facilities. There is also a trend to establish dedicated areas
within smart cites, where academia and industry collaborate and engage in innovative activities that overall contribute
positively to the development of human and social capital.
Smart city strategies seek to enhance the attraction capital predominantly by offering financial and operational
incentives (government services for businesses, business incubation services, and incentives such as tax exemptions and
favorable financing schemes) and collaboration opportunities with other businesses, the government and academia.
Some smart city strategies also offer showcase opportunities (businesses have the opportunity to demonstrate their
products and services in real-life settings) and business promotion services (platforms to market the city‟s businesses).
Nonetheless, attracting capital and investments are important elements of smart city strategies.
Collaboration and networking, referring to partnerships with other cities for knowledge and experience exchange and
examining complementarities in strengths and weaknesses, is a basic horizontal characteristic of smart cities, too. Large
and established cities, such as the ones studied in this paper, are in privileged position, as they are already experienced
in international networking and are members of various networks and city alliances that they can leverage. Special
attention should be paid to promote the digital presence of the city (website, social media). Such promotion will
underpin efforts towards becoming smart and engaging stakeholders in this process.
Overall, it seems that we are finally heading towards a true integration of the digital with physical and institutional
dimensions of the smart city. Physical planning and social policy, then, can and should underpin the digital or „smart‟
dimension of the city and promote its integration upon them.
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