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The current status of smart city research: exposing the division

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2. The current status of smart city
research: exposing the division
Luca Mora, Alasdair Reid and
Margarita Angelidou
2.1 THE RISE OF SMART CITY RESEARCH
A new global movement has emerged around smart city development
and the technology-driven approach to urban sustainability that such
developments represent. Forecasts from IDC (2018) suggest that spending
on technological solutions for smart cities will reach 135 billion dollars
by 2021. Similar projections from the consulting rms ARUP, BCC
Research, and Frost & Sullivan are even more optimistic, estimating the
smart technology market to be worth 775 billion dollars by 2021, rising
to somewhere between 2,000 and 3,600 billion dollars by 2025 (ARUP,
2013; Frost & Sullivan, 2018; Research and Markets, 2017; Sullivan, 2017).
Despite these variances, a common theme emerges: the global market for
smart technology is expected to grow exponentially.
The increasing demand for information and communications technol-
ogy (ICT) solutions to support the objectives of sustainable urban devel-
opment is evident. In 2010, Frost & Sullivan reported that only 41 cities
throughout the world were attempting to integrate smart city solutions
(Singh, 2010). However, when Yonsei University repeated this mapping
exercise in 2012, the gure had changed signicantly. In just two years,
the number of cities adopting ICT solutions to meet urban sustainability
challenges had grown to 143 (Lee and Hancock, 2012), most of which were
located in Europe, Asia, and North America. A study undertaken in 2014
by the RAND Corporation on behalf of the European Parliament also
conrmed this trend, identifying nearly 500 cities within the EU that were
in the process of developing smart city strategies (Manville et al., 2014).
Smart city development is now a global phenomenon that is closely
monitored by a community of researchers interested in investigating the
design and implementation process of smart city strategies. The origin of
this investigation can be traced back to 1992 with the publication of The
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18 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
Technopolis Phenomenon: Smart Cities, Fast Systems, Global Networks, a
seminal book authored by Gibson et al. (1992). The publication is notable
as being the rst work of academic literature to introduce the smart city
concept (Komninos, 2011). Since then, smart cities have become synony-
mous with ICT-driven urban sustainability and have become the focus of
a growing community of researchers representing academia, government,
industry, and civil society (Mora and Deakin, 2019; Mora et al., 2019a).
Thanks to their collective eorts, the production of literature dealing with
smart city research has been growing rapidly since 1992 (Mora et al., 2017).
This literature conrms the existence of a worldwide movement in smart
city development and the ICT-driven approach to urban sustainability it
promotes. However, it also exposes the uncertainty, confusion, and divi-
sion around smart city development. Despite three decades of research,
the available literature fails to oer the insight needed for the community
of stakeholders working on smart city developments to eectively promote
an ICT-driven approach to sustainable urban development, leaving many
gaps in what is understood about these developments and how urban sus-
tainability can be delivered (Ahvenniemi et al., 2017; Colding and Barthel,
2017; Grossi and Pianezzi, 2017; Kitchin, 2015; Meijer and Bolivar, 2016).
In critically reecting upon the rst three decades of research into smart
city development, this chapter exposes the division aecting this knowledge
domain. This activity builds on a number of studies that the authors have
undertaken between 2017 and 2018 in order to investigate the mechanisms
of knowledge production shaping the intellectual structure of the smart
city research eld (Komninos and Mora, 2018; Mora and Deakin, 2019;
Mora et al., 2017, 2018, 2019b, 2019c, 2019d). In this chapter, these studies
and their ndings are reviewed, and a synopsis is oered which captures
the signicance of the insights into the current state of smart city research
that these systematic investigations have brought together.
The discussion begins by reporting on the results of two bibliometric
studies of smart city literature produced during the rst 21 years of
research, from 1992 to 2012. The rst bibliometric analysis reveals a lack
of cohesion and a limited intellectual exchange between the researchers
involved in smart city research, which has resulted in little consensus on
what cities should do in order to become smart and activate the ICT-driven
approach to urban sustainability (Komninos and Mora, 2018; Mora et
al., 2017). The second study continues this investigation and reveals that
this intellectual division manifests itself in the form of ve discrete paths
for the development of smart cities. As the ndings will demonstrate,
these development paths provide alternative interpretations as to how
smart city development should be approached and are represented as a
set of dichotomies (Mora et al., 2018, 2019b). The signicance of these
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The current status of smart city research 19
dichotomies is then discussed by reporting on a detailed examination of
the smart city literature produced between 1992 and 2018. Extending the
scope of the investigation has provided the necessary evidence to suggest
that the division and lack of cohesion surfaced in the literature produced
during the rst two decades of smart city research remains embedded in its
intellectual structure and continues to undermine the progressive evolution
of this knowledge domain (Mora et al., 2019c, 2019d).
2.2 A DEEPLY ROOTED DIVISION
Knowledge domains can be considered as groups of publications which
are interrelated, and the deployment of complex mapping techniques helps
assemble and visualise their intellectual structure (Giannakis, 2012; Xiao
et al., 2017). The connection between publications belonging to the same
knowledge domain is represented by citations. As such, citations serve
as a “symbolic currency that signals intellectual inuences” (Jacobsen et
al., 2013, p. 226) and the citation process enables researchers to extract
intellectual work embedded in other studies and incorporate it into their
own research. It is through this exchange of knowledge that researchers
collaborate in shaping the intellectual structure of knowledge domains
(Corsini et al., 2019; Gareld, 1970).
These mapping techniques enabled the visualisation of the rst two dec-
ades of research into smart cities, from 1992 to 2012, and made it possible
to reveal the intellectual structure of this knowledge domain (Komninos
and Mora, 2018; Mora et al., 2017). This structure, which is composed
of 1,067 publications, is represented as a network graph in which the
publications belonging to the smart city research eld have become nodes
and the elements connecting them are citations (see Figure 2.1). In the
graph, the publications are represented as circles and the diameter of each
circle is directly proportional to the number of citations that a publication
has received. Therefore, a large circle corresponds to a high number of
citations. In addition, the publications which have received at least one
citation are shown in dark grey, whereas the light grey is used to identify
those articles without citations.
By observing the distribution of the nodes, the intellectual structure
is seen as fragmented and divergent due to the absence of connections
between the publications produced during the rst two decades of
research. As a consequence of this fragmentation, the intellectual structure
of the smart city research domain is divided into a multitude of uncon-
nected publications. A central core emerges, in which the network is
well-articulated, due to the presence of citations, which indicate an active
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20 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
knowledge exchange process between the researchers. However, when
moving towards the external edge, the organisation of the intellectual
structure changes. Publications either remain completely disconnected or
form small groups which remain detached from the central core.
When trying to identify a shared interpretation of smart cities, this
divergence and lack of cohesion becomes even more noticeable. Various
attempts to dene the smart city concept can be found in the body of lit-
erature under investigation, with two dominant interpretations emerging.
The rst denition characterises smart cities as an urban environment
where a combination of human, social, cultural, economic, environmental,
Figure 2.1 The rst two decades of smart city research: intellectual structure
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The current status of smart city research 21
and technological features facilitates urban sustainability. This interpreta-
tion nds support in the research published by Caragliu et al. (2011) and
Ginger et al. (2007), who move the smart city concept away from an
excessively technology-dominated perspective and oer a human-centric
reading of the subject. In their research, smart cities are not places dened
by the prevalence of ICTs, but urban areas where “investments in human
and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) com-
munication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high
quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through
participatory governance” (Caragliu et al., 2011, p. 70).
This interpretation, which can be considered as holistic, responds
to Hollands’ call for a more progressive understanding of smart cities,
which “start with people and the human capital side of the equation,
rather than blindly believing that IT itself can automatically transform
and improve cities” (Hollands, 2008, p. 315). This point was previously
picked up by Komninos (2006, p. 13), who suggests merging the intelligent
city concept with the smart city concept, where the former is dened as
an urban environment “with high capacity for learning and innovation,
which is built-in to the creativity of their population, their institutions of
knowledge creation, and their digital infrastructure for communication
and knowledge management”. This denition conceives smart cities as
urban areas in which the technological, human, social, and cultural capital
of a community makes it possible to better understand urban challenges
and develop more eective solutions (Komninos, 2002, 2008).
The smart city that IBM proposes, as documented by Dirks and Keeling
(2009), stands in contrast to this holistic and human-centric interpretation.
Smart cities are instead envisioned as urban environments permeated with
ICT solutions, and where all physical infrastructures are interconnected.
This alternative reading, which is focused on the singular role that ICTs
play in developing integrated platforms for city services, is aligned with
Washburn et al. (2010), who suggest that cities become smart when they
combine the use “of software systems, server infrastructure, network
infrastructure, and client devices [. . .] to better connect seven critical city
infrastructure components and services: city administration, education,
healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, and utilities”.
2.3 THE MAIN DEVELOPMENT PATHS OF SMART
CITIES
In undertaking a second bibliometric analysis of the literature, ve emerg-
ing development paths have been identied. Each of these development
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22 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
paths interprets the smart city as being an urban environment in which
an ICT-driven approach to sustainability has been adopted. However, the
approaches that they suggest deploying to assemble smart city development
strategies are conicting.
Experimental Path
The experimental path focuses attention on two emerging paradigms – the
Internet of Things (IoT) and ubiquitous computing – and highlights
the contribution of both concepts in the development of strategies for
sustainable development.
As explained by Weiser et al. (1999), ubiquitous computing is one of
the essential paradigms underpinning the IoT (ITU, 2005) and is based on
“the idea of spreading computers ubiquitously, but invisibly, throughout the
environment”, superseding the “one person-one computer desktop para-
digm” (Weiser et al., 1999, p. 693). In line with this vision, which was rst
developed in the early 1990s, computers are (1) interconnected by ubiquitous
networks, (2) spread out in the real world, and (3) able to work invisibly and
autonomously, with no need for human intervention. Wireless technologies
have enabled this vision, by allowing multiple networks of physical objects
with Internet capability to connect with each other (Mitchell, 2003).
It is this proliferation of Internet-connected devices which has enabled
the Internet of Things: an expansion of the existing Internet which oers
new ICT services and digital applications (Atzori et al., 2010; Tselentis et
al., 2009). The elds of application are many and, as Miorandi et al. (2012)
point out, these include smart cities. The Experimental Path builds on this
assumption and suggests smart cities are urban areas characterised by a
large deployment of IoT solutions. In this interpretation, smart cities are
seen as urban testbeds for experimenting IoT infrastructures and service
applications where the functionality, relevance, and potential impact in real
life environments can be analysed.
Ubiquitous Path
This development path suggests that the ubiquitous city and smart city are
essentially two corresponding terms, both representing an extension of the
knowledge city (Lee et al., 2008). The knowledge city is an information-
based notion which results from research undertaken within the framework
of the knowledge economy and advances an urban environment where
knowledge production and management processes are placed at the heart
of urban sustainable development strategies. As Yigitcanlar et al. (2008)
point out, knowledge has become a fundamental asset in wealth creation
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The current status of smart city research 23
and sustainable growth dynamics, and cities can use such resources to
develop a better understanding of the urban issues which aect sustainable
development and how these problems can be overcome.
In order to full the potential of a knowledge-based urban development,
cities have started leveraging ICTs as the means to achieve such ambitions,
in what is termed the ubiquitous city (Lee et al., 2008). The ubiquitous
city concept derives from the ubiquitous computing paradigm and is used
to describe those urban environments in which ubiquitous infrastructure
components are omnipresent and enable a wide range of digital services. In
accessing these online services, city users can obtain real-time information
which describes the functionality of the city (Shin, 2007, 2010). Therefore,
ubiquitous cities can be dened as places where “all information systems
are linked and [. . .] everyone is connected”, fully utilising the potential of
internet-enabled devices and the broadband infrastructure (Shin and Kim,
2010, p. 148).
This concept has been most widely adopted in the Asian continent, in
particular South Korea, where a nationwide programme on ubiquitous
cities was launched in 2007 (Republic of Korea, 2007). As a result of
this programme, many city governments in South Korea have integrated
ubiquitous technologies into their urban environment in order to boost
urban sustainability. Research by Tekes (2011) reports that more than fty
city initiatives have been implemented.
However, the South Korean experience of ubiquitous cities has been criti-
cised by Shin (2007, 2009, 2010), whose research activity sheds light on the
limitations and weaknesses of this nationally-endorsed programme. Indeed,
Shin’s investigation revealed that most organisations involved in the develop-
ment of ubiquitous cities were primarily motivated by market perspectives
and nancial interests, rather than satisfying the needs of city users.
Corporate Path
In looking to exploit the lucrative smart city market, multinational ICT
companies such as Hitachi (Kohno et al., 2011), Cisco Systems (Amato
et al., 2012), and IBM have started operating in the domain of urban
technology, and as a result of this choice, they are now deeply involved
in the debate on smart city development. The participation of industry in
the smart city area has led to the production of a large body of literature
which is seen as championing a corporate smart city model. This model
suggests the transition from ordinary urban environments to smart cities
requires cities to adopt a one-size-ts-all platform of digital solutions
provided by ICT companies. Research by Dirks et al. (2009, 2010), Dirks
and Keeling (2009), and Harrison et al. (2010, 2011) reveals IBM to be
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24 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
a primary exponent of the corporate smart city model, which underpins
their Smarter Planet initiative.
The Smarter Planet initiative was launched by IBM in 2008, a corporate
initiative to deliver smart city related consultancy services to city adminis-
trations (Palmisano, 2008). The Smarter Planet initiative interprets smart
city development as a three-stage process, which is discussed in Dirks and
Keeling’s (2009) report A Vision of Smarter Cities. These phases are called
Instrumentation, Interconnection, and Intelligence: (1) Instrumentation
enables cities to be transformed into large data capture systems by
means of sensor networks which continuously gather data describing
the functionality of the urban infrastructure; (2) Interconnection refers
to the connections that these networks create between infrastructure
components; and (3) Intelligence is what advanced analytics can extract
from the processing of large amounts of data which is collected and then
interpreted to support evidence-based decision-making.
European Path
ICTs have proven important in helping governments to mitigate climate
change and promote a low-carbon future. The signicance of this support
is exposed in SMART 2020, a report published in 2008 by The Climate
Group, a non-prot organisation whose mission is to help society address
climate change. This report describes the pivotal role of ICTs in reducing
carbon emissions and improving energy eciency, and provides empirical
evidence which demonstrates that ICTs can oer a signicant contribution
to improving the sustainability of power networks, transportation systems,
and buildings (The Climate Group, 2008).
Information and communications technologies can foster the transition
to an energy-ecient and low-carbon economy by reducing the volume of
greenhouse gases, increasing the share of renewable energies, and improv-
ing energy eciency. This commitment to making urban environments
more sustainable is a key pledge of all EU member states. It is within this
context that the European Commission envisages smart cities as those cities
which transform their buildings, energy networks, and transport systems
into highly energy-ecient systems by making full use of the energy-saving
capacity of the most advanced low-carbon technological solutions that the
market has to oer (European Commission, 2009a, 2009b).
Holistic Path
Research investigating the contribution of digital technologies to sustain-
able urban development has grown progressively in recent years, as has the
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The current status of smart city research 25
number of cities experimenting with ICT solutions to promote sustainable
urban development. These city initiatives have subsequently been aorded
a prex that is seen to characterise the particular development model
adopted, including ‘digital’, ‘intelligent’, and ‘smart’.
The term digital city rst emerged at the end of the last century and was
applied to a number of projects launched across Europe, North America,
and Asia. A key feature of these projects was the development of websites
for city authorities, where local residents could access online services.
Research on the digital city concept found the main objectives as being: to
stimulate local economic development; to improve the image and visibility
of the city; to widen Internet access to all residents; to support the growth
of active online communities participating in local matters; and to manage
the city’s infrastructure more eectively (Aurigi and Graham, 2000; Ishida
and Isbister, 2000).
The beginning of the twenty-rst century witnessed the emergence of
intelligent cities into the urban discourse, characterised by the use of ICT
to increase the innovation capacity and problem-solving capability of local
communities (Komninos, 2002, 2006, 2008). Whilst both digital cities and
intelligent cities are seen as championing ICT-driven urban development,
the motivation behind each approach is distinct. Digital city projects aim
to facilitate some aspects of the urban social and economic life, while the
ICT component of intelligent city initiatives is to provide the conditions
for strengthening the capability of cities to produce new knowledge and
innovation.
The transition from intelligent cities to smart cities results from the
merging of two separate dynamics. Firstly, there is the technological
innovation of the ICT sector that has opened up new possibilities for
addressing urban sustainability issues by means of digital solutions
(Komninos, 2011; Schaers et al., 2011). Secondly, there is a movement
towards a more progressive view of ICT-driven strategies for sustainable
urban development, which clearly emerges from the smart city literature
published between 2009 and 2011 (see Caragliu et al., 2009; Hollands,
2008; Ratti and Townsend, 2011) – a progressive view that research previ-
ously conducted between the 1990s and the 2000s by Aurigi (2000, 2005,
2006), Castells (1996), Graham and Marvin (1996, 1999, 2001), and Mino
(2000) had already called for.
In an attempt to create distance from the technological determinism and
top-down entrepreneurial-based business logic of both the corporate smart
city model and the ubiquitous city experience, there is a call for a more
holistic interpretation of smart cities in which human, social, cultural,
environmental, economic, and technological components assume equal
standing (Deakin and Al Wear, 2011; Leydesdor and Deakin, 2011). This
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26 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
interpretation is embedded in the Holistic Path, in which smart cities are
perceived as urban areas where ICT solutions are adopted in order to meet
local sustainability goals, be they social, economic, or environmental. In
addition, the approach that this path proposes for building smart cities is
grounded in the collective intelligence of a bottom-up approach and based
upon participatory governance, open and user-driven innovation, and
community-led urban development.
2.4 THE DICHOTOMOUS NATURE OF RESEARCH
ON SMART CITIES
The analysis of these ve development paths reveals a division in the
intellectual organisation of the research domain. This division can be
represented as four distinct dichotomies that dictate the fundamental
attributes of smart city development. These dichotomies bring about
divergent hypotheses on what principles should be considered when
approaching smart city development strategies and are summarised as
follows: (1) technology-led or holistic strategy; (2) top-down or bottom-up
approach; (3) double or quadruple-helix model of collaboration; and (4)
mono-dimensional or integrated intervention logic. The questions which
emerge from these dichotomies generate a critical knowledge gap that
current research on smart cities is unable to close. Evidence of this short-
coming can be sourced from a comprehensive examination of the smart
city literature produced between 1992 and 2018.
Technology-Led or Holistic Strategy
The Experimental Path, Ubiquitous Path, and Corporate Path agree in
their assertion that information technologies are the main drivers behind
smart city developments, which result in the widespread integration of
one-size-ts-all technological solutions in the urban infrastructure. The
literature championing this approach to smart city development is in
contrast to a growing body of literature which suggests such an approach
promotes “a new kind of technology-led urban utopia” (Hollands, 2015,
p. 61). This is a utopia which is driven by multinational conglomerates
who are primarily concerned with commercial objectives, rather than
improving urban sustainability (Angelidou, 2015, 2017b; Carvalho, 2015;
Ersoy, 2017, Hollands, 2016; Kitchin, 2014; McNeill, 2016; Niaros, 2016;
Soderstrom et al., 2014; Viitanen and Kingston, 2014). This literature also
draws attention to the unintended consequences of the technological-led
approach, citing issues pertaining to privacy, democracy, and security.
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The current status of smart city research 27
Top-Down or Bottom-Up Approach
The dierences between top-down and bottom-up approaches to smart city
development create additional confusion, an issue which has been addressed
in various studies (see Exner, 2015, Gooch et al., 2015, Komninos, 2014,
Lee et al., 2014, Ludlow et al., 2017; Ratti and Townsend, 2011; Townsend,
2013). As evidenced by the literature, top-down approaches are seen to
emerge from initiatives where the city government has full autonomy for
outlining a citywide strategy which other stakeholders are invited to adhere
to. Conversely, a bottom-up approach is characterised by the prevalence
of grass-roots community activism and a less rigid hierarchical structure.
The literature that considers these opposing approaches has generated
much debate regarding their eective capacity to support smart city
development. In this debate, top-down smart cities are criticised as being
incapable of eectively serving the local community, because the focus
remains on meeting the interests of ICT companies involved in the smart
city market (Gooch et al., 2015; Shin, 2007, 2009, 2010; Townsend, 2013).
Research by Lee and Hancock (2012) proposes a dierent interpretation
and suggests a centralised top-down smart city development strategy that
is correctly aligned with local priorities is preferable to a strategy based
on a bottom-up approach. However, in an alternative interpretation, it is
pointed out that top-down and bottom-up approaches are both beset by
their respective limitations, therefore, successful smart city developments
require strategies able to combine both approaches (Angelidou, 2017a;
Bolici and Mora, 2015; Breuer et al., 2014; Exner, 2015; Mora and Bolici,
2016, 2017).
Double or Quadruple-Helix Model of Collaboration
There are signicant discrepancies in how the Corporate Path and Holistic
Path conceptualise smart cities, and this divergence surfaces when consid-
ering the collaborative model that each path promotes for the management
of smart city developments. The Corporate Path proposes a double-helix
collaborative model in which IT companies become the main providers
of technological solutions for urban challenges. In this model, industry is
portrayed as the dominant force, where the main objective is to sell their
proprietary technologies to city authorities (McNeill, 2016; Soderstrom et
al., 2014).
Alternatively, research by Angelidou (2014), Baccarne et al. (2014a,
2014b), Deakin and Leydesdor (2014), Bolici and Mora (2015), Mora
and Bolici (2016, 2017), and van Waart et al. (2016) suggests smart city
development strategies require the quadruple-helix collaborative model
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28 Smart cities in the post-algorithmic era
championed by the Holistic Path. This model is based on an open and
inclusive collaborative environment where government, academia, indus-
try, and civil society engage in joint initiatives. This literature highlights the
incapability of the double-helix model to t the complexity of smart city
developments and invites prospective smart cities to engage in “knowledge
sharing and collaboration across all levels of society” (Selada, 2017, p. 217).
Mono-Dimensional or Integrated Intervention Logic
The fourth dichotomy relates to the intervention logic. The path endorsed
by the European Commission focuses primarily on the energy market.
This approach promotes a one-dimensional intervention logic in which
smart cities are described as low-carbon and resource ecient urban
environments where ICT solutions are used to transform buildings, energy
networks, and transport systems into smart buildings, smart grids, and
smart transport systems.
Whilst the European Commission has endorsed this energy-focused
interpretation of smart cities since 2009, the literature supporting the
Experimental Path, Ubiquitous Path, Corporate Path, and Holistic Path
believes this vision is too limited, and suggests it ignores the additional
benets that smart city technologies can produce in other policy domains,
such as education, healthcare, and public safety. In this multi-dimensional
approach, a successful smart city has a portfolio of initiatives which
attempt to embed ICT solutions across the full spectrum of public service
provision (see Ginger et al., 2007; Manville et al., 2014).
2.5 DIVIDED WE STAND, UNITED WE FALL
This chapter critically reects upon the ndings of Komninos and Mora
(2018) and Mora et al. (2017, 2018, 2019b, 2019c, 2019d) in their investiga-
tions into the mechanisms of knowledge production which have shaped
the scholarly debate within the smart city research domain over the last
30 years. The signicance of these studies lies in their ability to expose the
deeply rooted divisions that undermine the evolution of smart cities. The
absence of consensus, with regard to selecting an approach to eectively
manage smart city developments, exposes a critical limitation which under-
mines the potential that smart cities have to deliver ICT-related urban
innovation. To exemplify such confusion, many cities are now adopting the
smart city term to represent all green initiatives, regardless of the role of
ICT, using the term as a synonym for the broader sustainable city concept
(De Jong et al., 2015).
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The current status of smart city research 29
The ambiguity surrounding smart city research continues to leave many
gaps, making it dicult to capture what is understood about the ICT-driven
approach to urban sustainability driving the smart city concept (Colding
and Barthel, 2017; Grossi and Pianezzi, 2017; Kitchin, 2015). The challenge
that this poses to future research is clear: to move beyond the confusion
surrounding the smart city subject and fully overcome the knowledge gap
that the dichotomous nature of smart city research has generated. However,
meeting this objective requires the community of stakeholders promoting
smart city development to coordinate their eorts, and establish a shared
vision that is grounded in intellectual exchange and collaboration.
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... The perception that the knowledge gained from one city can function as a roadmap for other cities interested in applying SC theories in practice has inspired many researchers. Multiple attempts have been made (see Figure 1 describing five generalized SC transition paths by Mora and Angelidou, 2019 [32] to generalize the best Smart City practices through an extensive literature review or by analyzing different case studies on SC initiatives or strategies, either considered successful or not, hoping to learn from the practical experiences of the cities and to map the drivers and barriers of the SC transition [9,[33][34][35]. This kind of research is a never-ending quest, as the best practices change depending on the time and context, with, for example, the new discoveries in technology. ...
... This kind of research is a never-ending quest, as the best practices change depending on the time and context, with, for example, the new discoveries in technology. As several authors have pointed out [32,[36][37][38][39], there is a high expectancy from the policymakers that by implementing a Smart City transition they will be able to tackle all kinds of urban challenges in a sustainable manner, but the theoretical and practical ambiguity surrounding SC development and the coexistence of several urban transition theories leave many knowledge gaps about how to assemble and set up the SC transition and what direction to take. ...
... The five main Smart City (SC) transition paths (Source: the authors' adaption based on Mora and Angelidou[32]). ...
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The main interest of this paper is to analyze the gap between an existing city and its future vision set in the strategy, with a focus on the transition path towards becoming a Smart City. For the analyses, we used the example of Tallinn, a middle-sized European capital city acknowledged in innovation reports as a good example of a Smart City development. This is a qualitative case study with data based on the Tallinn 2035 strategy document and on the interviews conducted with city officials. We mapped the current situation in regard to the four Smart City strategies dichotomies framework in order to understand if and how the future vision of Tallinn differs from the present. The results indicate that the current direction deviates in several ways from the future vision set in the strategy, and that to be able to move towards the vision, strategic changes are needed. With this paper we hope to add some insights to the literature about the knowledge gap between Smart City theory and implementation from the perspective of a present situation versus long-term strategy.
... privacy loss and deep commodification of human experience, corporate control and urban fragility). For insights on some of the key traits of such discussions see Angelidou (2017), Kitchin (2014); Mora, Reid, and Angelidou (2019). ...
... Second, showing the extent to which the positive and negative narratives regarding this matter are incompatible, which highlights the necessity for policy-makers and land use planners to take well-informed decisions that remain open to democratic contestation and revision. Indeed, and as noted by Mora et al. (2019), there is not an emerging or foreseeable consensus regarding the topic. On the contrary, the debates on smart cities present some features of what van Eeten (1999) called 'dialogues of the deaf': a situation where the scientification of politics and the politicisation of science increasingly occur through duels between opposing worldviews that progressively radicalize their discourses and practices. ...
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Contemporary debates about the smart city are being characterized by divergent views. While smart city proponents enthusiastically see it as a transformative vision for the future of urban areas, the skeptics bring to the fore extremely critical views. The present article critically presents the insights offered by Portuguese planners and public officials on how to craft policies aimed at regulating smart city initiatives in Portugal so that the best land use governance approaches can be identified for this country. Gathered through a mix of semi-structured interviews and an online survey, these insights indicate that planning should play a key role in smart city initiatives, since much can be gained, but also lost, through these initiatives. The insights also show the extent to which smart innovations enjoy today a supposedly universalistic quality: even though Portugal is a peripheral country with very particular social, economic and geographic features, the participants in this research struggled to offer insights that were specifically related to the Portuguese context. This is critically assessed as an alarming sign of the digital colonization that contemporary imaginaries are experiencing.
... There is no consensus on what a smart city actually is. It is a concept discussed for over twenty years [81], yet it remains fuzzy [82], with a plethora of definitions to choose from [83], which makes defining a conceptual framework for the measurement much more challenging. There is no clear goal for evaluation with no clear understanding of what this phenomenon is and what it means to be smart. ...
... Both e-government rankings are based on specific development stages, which are set in technological and political contexts. While oneway interaction and two-way interaction in the provision of public services are easily definable and measurable, in the case of smart government, the emphasis is on the dimensions [12], models [84], paths [81], or vaguely identifiable generations [85], and not development stages. Additionally, the EU's ranking is tied to strategic goals presented in consecutive strategies for developing information society, and UN's is connected to Sustainable Development Goals, which define benchmarks to measure. ...
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... It is well accepted today that the fast-paced and unchecked development of an increasing number of so-called smart technologies, propelled by the driver of technological innovation, represents a massive governance and research challenge, as well as a substantial source of social, economic, and environmental risks [4][5][6][7][8][9][10]. These risks are being accepted because innovation as an intrinsically positive value has found a stronghold in contemporary societies, policy-making circles, and academic communities [7,11]. ...
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