ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

World urbanization is an important process: it is predicted that by 2050 about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. This phenomenon creates enormous social, economic, and environmental changes, which provide opportunities to use resources more efficiently. Furthermore, considering the looming problem of the pandemic, limiting contact between people in tight environments has become one of the major problems facing cities, where space, resources, and transport are increasingly shared. In this context, advanced technologies such as big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence are used to cope with ever-growing towns and with problems related to the phenomenon of hyper urbanization, to enhance the organization of urban services, reduce costs and resource consumption, and increase contact between citizens and governments. Advanced technologies make towns and cities become “smarter”, solving problems related to the organization of a society in which many people share the resources of cities, such as spaces, services, and public places. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. In this Special Issue entitled “Advanced Technologies in Smart Cities”, we provide a comprehensive view of the modern city from different perspectives, and include contributions from different research areas, enforcing the interdisciplinary interest in modern city development.


Citation: Mazza, D.; Tarchi, D.; Juan,
A.A. Advanced Technologies in
Smart Cities. Energies 2022,15, 4764.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en15134764
Received: 27 May 2022
Accepted: 25 June 2022
Published: 29 June 2022
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affil-
iations.
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
energies
Editorial
Advanced Technologies in Smart Cities
Daniela Mazza 1,† , Daniele Tarchi 2,*,† and Angel A. Juan 3,†
1Government of Emilia-Romagna Region, 40100 Bologna, Italy; danielamazza@gmail.com
2
Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Università di Bologna, 40136 Bologna, Italy
3Department of Applied Statistics and Operations Research, Universitat Politècnica de València,
03801 Alcoi, Spain; ajuanp@upv.es
*Correspondence: daniele.tarchi@unibo.it
These authors contributed equally to this work.
World urbanization is an important process: it is predicted that by 2050 about 64%
of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. This phe-
nomenon creates enormous social, economic, and environmental changes, which provide
opportunities to use resources more efficiently. Furthermore, considering the looming prob-
lem of the pandemic, limiting contact between people in tight environments has become
one of the major problems facing cities, where space, resources, and transport are increas-
ingly shared. In this context, advanced technologies such as big data, IoT, and artificial
intelligence are used to cope with ever-growing towns and with problems related to the
phenomenon of hyper urbanization, to enhance the organization of urban services, reduce
costs and resource consumption, and increase contact between citizens and governments.
Advanced technologies make towns and cities become “smarter”, solving problems related
to the organization of a society in which many people share the resources of cities, such
as spaces, services, and public places. Smart city applications are developed to manage
urban flows and allow for real-time responses. In this Special Issue entitled “Advanced
Technologies in Smart Cities”, we provide a comprehensive view of the modern city from
different perspectives, and include contributions from different research areas, enforcing
the interdisciplinary interest in modern city development.
This Special Issue on “Advanced Technologies in Smart Cities” includes seven papers
ranging over different technological aspects of the modern cities ranging from the opti-
mization of the telecommunication network in densely urban areas [
1
], to the evaluation
of Blockchain-based technologies for IoT applications [
2
], from the optimization of the
last-mile means of transport for freight distribution [
3
], to an agile approach for Intelligent
Transportation System exploiting Edge Computing technologies [
4
], a survey approach
for Quality of Life evaluation in sustainable cities [
5
], and finally, a Collaborative Energy
Community perspective in Europe [
6
], as well a proposal of a joint wireless power and
information transfer in IoT scenarios [7].
A brief summary of the content associated with each of the selected papers belonging
to this Special Issue is included below:
In Cano-Ortega and Sánchez-Sutil
[1]
the authors focus on an optimization framework
for improving the performance of a long-range (LoRa) based communication system. The
authors propose to use an artificial bee colony algorithm, allowing to reduce the packet
loss in a residential environment with a reduced measurement time span. The algorithm
calculates the configuration parameters of the LoRa network, monitoring in real-time the
data traffic, and is implemented in the gateway LoRa network monitor (GLNM). This
developed system allows performing demand dwelling forecasting studies, analysis of
home consumption, optimization of electricity tariffs, etc., applied to smart grids
Furthermore, the work by Saputro and Sari
[2]
is based on LoRa network implemen-
tations for the Internet of Things (IoT). The authors focus here on integrating blockchain
technology in the IoT topology to secure the data and transactions that occur in the IoT
network. In particular, they focus on establishing a lightweight blockchain platform with
Energies 2022,15, 4764. https://doi.org/10.3390/en15134764 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/energies
Energies 2022,15, 4764 2 of 3
low latency that could run on devices with low computing resources as well as IoT devices.
In this paper, the authors simulate how the broadcast domain works and verify the results
in lower latency and energy transmission compared to the standard blockchain model.
A case study regarding freight transportation in the center of a mid-size city is consid-
ered in Serrano-Hernandez et al.
[3]
. Using the analytic hierarchy process methodology,
the authors are able to propose alternative transportation modes and routes for last-mile
delivery. These alternative distribution plans are assessed considering the economic, envi-
ronmental, and social dimensions, which make use of an online questionnaire distributed
among citizens. Their study promotes the use of drones and bikes in last-mile delivery. The
authors also conclude that pedestrian safety and life quality are the most valuable indicators
according to citizens, while cargo bikes are seen as the best alternative for deliveries in the
city center.
With the focus on smart cities, where new data on the traffic status is continuously
being provided by the Internet of Things systems, Peyman et al.
[4]
discuss how the
combination of cloud with fog and edge computing can influence modern transportation
systems. To deal with these challenging ecosystems, these authors propose the use of agile
optimization algorithms, which are capable of providing real-time solutions to large-scale
vehicle routing problems. To illustrate these concepts, a dynamic ride-sharing problem is
modeled and solved using an agile optimization algorithm, which employs well-tested
biased-randomization techniques.
In Ligarski and Wolny
[5]
the key role played by citizens in the development of
sustainable smart cities is highlighted. In fact, the authors planned and conducted empirical
studies to examine the areas influencing the quality of life from the point of view of
municipalities, conducting a survey on a sample of 84 municipal offices in Poland. They
thoroughly investigated the areas influencing the quality of life, their impact, and their
importance and determined that people responsible for research in municipal offices are
aware that the quality of life is influenced by many areas and conditions, however, they
cannot indicate what can be extended to them.
In Boulanger et al.
[6]
the authors investigate an active involvement from a bottom-up
perspective, creating energy communities, and give a qualitative overview of energy com-
munity concepts and strategies at the European level. Providing a threefold methodology,
they identify common approaches that are framing the development of energy communities
and analyze the most successful steps leading to their creation and growth. The results
outline useful considerations for implementing this transition pathway in a real case.
Finally, in Tarchi et al.
[7]
the authors propose a system enabling the implementation
of a self-sustainable wireless network. An energy-efficient fog network architecture for
IoT scenarios, jointly implements computation offloading operations and simultaneous
wireless information and power transfer (SWIPT), hence, enabling the possibility of jointly
transferring energy and computational tasks among the nodes. The system under con-
sideration is composed of three nodes, where an access point (AP) is considered to be
always connected to the power network, while a relay node and an end node can harvest
energy from the AP. The proposed solution allows for jointly optimizing the computation
offloading and the energy harvesting phases while maximizing the network lifetime, to
maximize the operational time of the network.
Author Contributions:
Writing—original draft preparation, D.T.; writing—review and editing, D.M.
and A.A.J. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Energies 2022,15, 4764 3 of 3
References
1.
Cano-Ortega, A.; Sánchez-Sutil, F. Performance Optimization LoRa Network by Artificial Bee Colony Algorithm to Determination
of the Load Profiles in Dwellings. Energies 2020,13, 517. [CrossRef]
2.
Saputro, M.Y.A.; Sari, R.F. Performance Evaluation of Broadcast Domain on the Lightweight Multi-Fog Blockchain Platform for a
LoRa-Based Internet of Things Network. Energies 2021,14, 2265. [CrossRef]
3.
Serrano-Hernandez, A.; Ballano, A.; Faulin, J. Selecting Freight Transportation Modes in Last-Mile Urban Distribution in
Pamplona (Spain): An Option for Drone Delivery in Smart Cities. Energies 2021,14, 4748. [CrossRef]
4.
Peyman, M.; Copado, P.J.; Tordecilla, R.D.; Martins, L.d.C.; Xhafa, F.; Juan, A.A. Edge Computing and IoT Analytics for Agile
Optimization in Intelligent Transportation Systems. Energies 2021,14, 6309. [CrossRef]
5.
Ligarski, M.J.; Wolny, M. Quality of Life Surveys as a Method of Obtaining Data for Sustainable City Development—Results of
Empirical Research. Energies 2021,14, 7592. [CrossRef]
6.
Boulanger, S.O.M.; Massari, M.; Longo, D.; Turillazzi, B.; Nucci, C.A. Designing Collaborative Energy Communities: A European
Overview. Energies 2021,14, 8226. [CrossRef]
7.
Tarchi, D.; Bozorgchenani, A.; Gebremeskel, M.D. Zero-Energy Computation Offloading with Simultaneous Wireless Information
and Power Transfer for Two-Hop 6G Fog Networks. Energies 2022,15, 1632. [CrossRef]
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Currently, we are faced with an ever-increasing number of devices and objects connected to the Internet aimed at creating the so-called Internet of Things framework, fostering the creation of a connected world of objects. One of the main challenges we are actually facing is constituted by the constrained sizes of such objects: reduced memory, reduced computational capacity, and reduced battery sizes. Particular attention should be devoted to energy efficiency, since a potential energy shortage would negatively impact not only its operation but also network-wide operation, considering the tight connections among any object. According to the 6G system’s use-case related to self-sustainability and zero-energy networks, this paper focuses on an energy-efficient fog network architecture for IoT scenarios, jointly implementing computation offloading operations and simultaneous wireless information and power Transfer (SWIPT), hence, enabling the possibility of jointly transferring energy and computational tasks among the nodes. The system under consideration is composed of three nodes, where an access point (AP) is considered to be always connected to the power network, while a relay node and an end node can harvest energy from the AP. The proposed solution allows to jointly optimize the computation offloading and the energy harvesting phases while maximizing the network lifetime, so as to maximize the operational time of the network. Numerical results obtained on MATLAB demonstrate that the proposed algorithm performs better than the other benchmarks considered for comparison.
Article
Full-text available
Renewable energy has a crucial role in facing climate change. One promising strategy is the creation of energy communities that require active involvement from a bottom-up perspective. Their implementation is difficult, as they currently rely on local policies, community readiness, and technological availability. The objective of this paper is to provide a qualitative overview of energy community concepts and strategies at the European level. The aim is to identify common approaches that are framing the development of energy communities, and to understand the most successful steps leading to their creation and growth. To achieve this objective, a threefold methodology is provided: (1) an updated review on policies dealing with energy communities at the European and Italian level; (2) a qualitative overview of European-funded projects under the Horizon 2020 work program; and (3) a qualitative overview of some of the most successful existing energy communities in Europe. The results outline a series of considerations and lessons learned that are useful for implementing this transition pathway in a real case, which is also presented in the paper. The conclusions will identify some future directions of this research, particularly in relation to the results coming from the implementation of actions in the real case.
Article
Full-text available
Citizens are beginning to play a key role in the development of the smart city concept, providing a wealth of information for the sustainable development of cities. For this research, we planned and conducted empirical studies to examine the areas influencing the quality of life from the point of view of municipalities. A questionnaire form was developed and a survey was conducted on a sample of 84 municipal offices in Poland. We tabulated, statistically processed and analysed the results and thoroughly investigated the areas influencing the quality of life, their impact and importance. We determined which areas of the city are included in municipal research and checked whether there was a need to expand these areas. We found that the people responsible for research in municipal offices are aware that the quality of life is influenced by many areas and conditions. However, these people only choose selected areas for research and have a problem with indicating what can be extended to them. At the end of the article, the limitations of the conducted research are indicated and the directions for further research are proposed.
Article
Full-text available
With the emergence of fog and edge computing, new possibilities arise regarding the data-driven management of citizens’ mobility in smart cities. Internet of Things (IoT) analytics refers to the use of these technologies, data, and analytical models to describe the current status of the city traffic, to predict its evolution over the coming hours, and to make decisions that increase the efficiency of the transportation system. It involves many challenges such as how to deal and manage real and huge amounts of data, and improving security, privacy, scalability, reliability, and quality of services in the cloud and vehicular network. In this paper, we review the state of the art of IoT in intelligent transportation systems (ITS), identify challenges posed by cloud, fog, and edge computing in ITS, and develop a methodology based on agile optimization algorithms for solving a dynamic ride-sharing problem (DRSP) in the context of edge/fog computing.These algorithms allow us to process, in real time, the data gathered from IoT systems in order to optimize automatic decisions in the city transportation system, including: optimizing the vehicle routing, recommending customized transportation modes to the citizens, generating efficient ride-sharing and car-sharing strategies, create optimal charging station for electric vehicles and different services within urban and interurban areas. A numerical example considering a DRSP is provided, in which the potential of employing edge/fog computing, open data, and agile algorithms is illustrated.
Article
Full-text available
Urban distribution in medium-sized cities faces a major challenge, mainly when deliveries are difficult in the city center due to: an increase of e-commerce, weak public transportation system, and the promotion of urban sustainability plans. As a result, private cars, public transportation, and freight transportation compete for the same space. This paper analyses the current state for freight logistics in the city center of Pamplona (Spain) and proposes alternative transportation routes and transportation modes in the last-mile city center distribution according to different criteria evaluated by residents. An analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was developed. A number of alternatives have been assessed considering routes and transportation modes: the shortest route criterion and avoiding some city center area policies are combined with traditional van-based, bike, and aerial (drone) distribution protocols for delivering parcels and bar/restaurant supplies. These alternatives have been evaluated within a multicriteria framework in which economic, environmental, and social objectives are considered at the same time. The point in this multicriteria framework is that the criteria/alternative AHP weights and priorities have been set according to a survey deployed in the city of Pamplona (Navarre, Spain). The survey and AHP results show the preference for the use of drone or bike distribution in city center in order to reduce social and environmental issues.
Article
Full-text available
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that allows every object or item to become part of the Internet and interact with each other. One of the technologies based on the IoT is Long Range (LoRa). Apart from the increasing number of IoT services, security aspects become a separate issue in the development of the IoT. One of the solutions is to utilize blockchain technology in the IoT topology to secure the data and transactions that occur in the IoT network. The blockchain can take minutes to compute a cryptographic chain. It also needs sufficient computing resources. This problem gave rise to the idea of establishing a lightweight blockchain platform with low latency that could run on devices with low computing resources as well as IoT devices. We offered a technology called Lightweight Multi-Fog (LMF) in our previous publication that is implemented using the Lightweight Scalable Blockchain (LSB) algorithm and the fog network on the IoT to solve the problem of integrating a blockchain with the IoT. In this paper, we simulate how the broadcast domain on LMF works and verify the results in lower latency and energy transmission compared to the standard blockchain model. The results showed that the average increase of the total delivery time (Taverage) on the LMF platform was smaller than the average increase of the total delivery time (Taverage), which was 0.53% for the variations in the number of nodes and 0.27% for the variations in the number of brokers/miners. Regarding the average increase of the total energy delivery (Eaverage), the Proof of Work (PoW) platform has a smaller increase of the total energy delivery (Eaverage), which is 1.68% during the variations in the number of nodes. In contrast, the LMF platform has a smaller average increase of the total shipping energy (Eaverage), which is 0.28% for the variations in the number of brokers/miners.
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a system to improve the performance of the Long Range (LoRa) network using an algorithm derived from the artificial bee colony (ABC), which obtains a minimum packet lost rate (PLR) in the LoRa network and allows to more accurately determine load profilesof dwellings, with smaller a time measurement and less data transmission. The developed algorithm calculates the configuration parameters of the LoRa network, monitoring in real time the data traffic, and is implemented in gateway LoRa network monitor (GLNM). Intelligent measurement equipment has been developed to determine the dwelling load profiles. This energy measurement device for dwelling (EMDD) measures the variables and consumption of electricity in each home with measurement times that can be configured. This research also develops the GLNM gateway, which monitors and receives data from the EMDDs installed and uploads them to the cloud using Firebase. This developed system allows to perform demand forecasting studies, analysis of home consumption, optimization of electricity tariffs, etc., applied to smart grids.