City Competitiveness and Improving Urban Subsystems: Technologies and Applications

City Competitiveness and Improving Urban Subsystems: Technologies and Applications

Melih Bulu (Istanbul Sehir University, Turkey)
Release Date: October, 2011|Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 322
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-174-0
ISBN13: 9781613501740|ISBN10: 1613501749|EISBN13: 9781613501757
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Description & Coverage

Cities are becoming the wealth producing centers of national economies. Increasing the operational efficiency of the city will bring a competitive edge to the whole system. Yet, many city subsystems cannot work together, creating significant problems and inefficiencies.

City Competitiveness and Improving Urban Subsystems: Technologies and Applications uses information science perspectives to improve working subsystems in transportation, sewage, electricity, water, communication, education, health, governance, and infrastructure since their efficient and synchronized operation is vital for a competitive city. This pioneering approach will interest researchers, professionals, and policymakers in urban economy, regional planning, and information science disciplines who wish to improve the competitiveness of their cities.


The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • City branding
  • City Competitiveness and Infrastructure
  • City Subsystems
  • Information Science and City Competitiveness
  • Information Science and City Subsystems
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Regional Planning
  • Role of GIS in City Competitiveness
  • Urban Economy
Reviews and Testimonials

The book makes an important contribution to city competitiveness literature, highlighting the role of urban systems and bringing together the recent research findings from many disciplines in a single edited collection. This book is an invaluable resource as it highlights alternatives and approaches in urban systems technology and applications for not only academics, but also city administrators and the urban systems development industry. The book also provides useful directions for policy-makers to set sensible strategies for building prosperous and competitive cities for their citizens.

– Tan Yigitcanlar, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Table of Contents
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Editor Biographies
Melih Bulu, Ph.D., has worked at various sections of the private sector as both a professional and an entrepreneur. While doing these, he has also worked on competitiveness related projects for cities during the last decade as an Academician and a Consultant. He has visited various cities to examine their competitiveness, in terms of their infrastructures and for consultancy purposes. Since 2004, Dr. Bulu has been the General Coordinator of International Competitiveness Research Institute (URAK), an NGO working on economic competitiveness of cities and countries. He is leading various competitiveness related projects on cities in URAK. He especially likes working on the improvement of cities in order to make them competitive. Dr. Bulu teaches strategy related courses at Istanbul Sehir University. His main interest areas are city competitiveness, regional development, game theory, cluster theory, and organization theory. He has various publications in academic and popular media.
Editorial Review Board

• Akyel, J., IBM, Turkey
• Karatas, M., Istanbul Development Agency, Turkey
• Türkay, M., Koç University, Turkey
• Yigitcanlar, T., Queensland University of Technology, Australia

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Cities attract people by offering a job and a livable environment. A job provides a kind of status in the society as well as an income to meet the needs of the person. A city means a home to live, schools for education, hospitals for health problems, police for safety, and a market for the daily food requirements. Besides, the city provides opportunities for leisure time activities. Cinemas, exhibitions, and sport arenas draw the attention of people. Obviously all these opportunities are available if people have jobs, which will means that people will have incomes.

The balance between jobs and opportunities of a city worked quite well after cities became centers of industrial production; cities attracted people from rural areas for more than a century. As a result of this, people migrated from rural areas to cities. This migration finished in developed nations, however, it continues in developing nations. According to UN forecasts, people are living in cities more than rural areas for the first time in the world history since 2007.
On one hand people are migrating from rural areas to cities, on the other hand inhabitants of cities migrate to other cities as well. People look for jobs to have income together with a better environment to live. Therefore an ideal city for people should establish a balance between creating job opportunities and providing a livable environment. Cities that have this balance become more attractive to people so that people prefer to migrate to these types of cities. A migration wave generally brings a new momentum to a city, because immigrants are more motivated to contribute to their new surroundings. Besides, the market size of a city enlarges. Therefore at the beginning, a migration fuels the city economy; however, as a migration continues, the size of the city increases and problems due to over-population may occur. An infrastructure designed for less people may not meet the requirements of an increasing population. If a city could solve its problems due to over-population, its development period will continue, otherwise, a decline period is unavoidable.   

Today, cities have become the wealth producing centers of the national economies. Factories produce their products for the people of the city as well as other customers living in the neighbor cities. Service companies aim to meet the needs of people and other companies in the city. At the same time, cities are attractive markets for companies, because the denser spatial distribution in cities as compared to rural areas means that the people there with have more purchasing power. Companies want to be close to cities so that they are closer to their markets. Besides, companies close to skilled manpower, that is important for their success, mainly live in cities. As a result, we see a close interdependency between the company and the city.
As the capabilities of transportation and communication increase, production and service companies of the city offer their outputs to other cities. Thus, production and service companies target not only their domestic market but also the people living in other cities. Thus, companies enlarge their market size so that they can use the advantage of economies of scale. This development causes a natural rivalry among the companies of different cities, because the companies of other cities also want to sell their products in cities other than their own. Competition among the companies of different cities pushes city decision makers to support their own companies. Some companies even relocate their facilities to another city, one where better conditions are available. Sometimes, a city will offer companies special opportunities in order to convince them to migrate to its own borders. Thus cities compete to attract companies in today’s world.

People who are looking for a good job will look for their ideal city to live. Skilled people are especially important for the future of a city, because those people are ones to be the main initiators of wealth creation. Another important player is the entrepreneur.  The entrepreneur is the initiator of the job creation as well as the wealth. The appropriate city to invest in is an interesting topic for entrepreneurs. Richard Florida finds a positive relationship between the number of people who have a higher education and the development of high-tech sectors in a specific region in his bohemian index study . The diversity index  is another index used by Florida which compares the metropolitan areas of US. Florida says overall diversity is a strong indicator of a metropolitan area’s high-technology success. Attracting skilled people and entrepreneurs are vital for city leaders. These people are one of the main inputs of a wealthy city. In order to attract skilled people and entrepreneurs, city leaders benchmark their cities with other cities. By analyzing the benchmark data, they see the potential areas to be improved. An important way of doing this is to use city competitiveness indexes.

Harvey  analyses the changing pattern of capitalism and its effects on urban governance which caused a shift from managerialism to urban entrepreneurship since 1980s. He says “neoliberal policies have advocated the rising competitiveness between cities and regions to attract hyper mobile foreign capital.” Harvey considers alternative competitiveness strategies for cities such as acquisition of key control and command functions in finance, government, or information gathering and processing. He also states that a competitive edge with respect to redistributions of surpluses through central governments is still of tremendous importance.

According to Jiang and Shen , studies assume urban competitiveness to be equal with urban success, which is understood in narrow economic terms, such as economic output, income, and employment growth. However, given its great relevance for public policy formulation, competitiveness should be understood from a longer-term perspective. Such a perspective should acknowledge the close relationship between the economic and noneconomic facets of urban life, highlight balanced development, and serve the overall public interest.

In some cities, one or a few companies dominate the city so that these companies mainly direct leaders of the city. Thus, the elected or assigned governors become the facilitator of company life in their cities. They aim to provide better infrastructure to companies. They try to attract skilled people to come to their cities. They promise a peaceful environment, and efficient and effective working systems. As a result, competition among cities starts.

The effects of globalization decreased the barriers of sending the outputs of companies to other cities in different countries. Thus the people living in cities meet their needs cheaper even though the service/product has high quality. On the other hand, globalization increased the pressure on companies, because they had already been in competition mainly with the companies of the same city or same country, however, today, their competitors are the companies from all over the world.
Today’s corporate world, the weight of companies in the decision-making process of developed cities is getting more influence. Therefore, the competition among the companies somehow has a reflection on their city. The leading companies of a city seek better facilities from their home city. By knowing this, city leaders aim to provide an effective and efficient working city system. They know that an efficient and effective working city system will naturally bring a competitive edge to whole system.
A city can be thought of as a whole system composed of subsystems. Thus a city has various subsystems such as transportation, sewage, water, health, etc… Each of these subsystems has an aim that serves the city. The better a subsystem works, the better it serves the inhabitants. For example, a good working health subsystem will provide trust to all citizens. On the other hand, if the road subsystem did not work properly, the fire service could not respond to a fire on time. An inefficient fire service is a threat to all other city subsystems. Therefore, for a good working city system, all the subsystems should be working properly and consistently with each other.

Many times city subsystems cannot jointly work with each other. This creates a significant inefficiency for the city. For example, water pipe renewal under a bottleneck road may prevent spectators of the city’s football team to reach their championship match on time. Or the weakness of design education prevents a huge design company to come to the city even though all other conditions are sufficient.  Therefore, compatible working subsystems are vital for the competitive city. If the education system is working effectively, this will provide an advantage to whole companies in the city against their rivals in other cities. If the communication infrastructure is not sufficient to daily information transformation, an entire city’s pace will be slower. As a result, the efficient and effective working subsystems are not sufficient separately for a competitive city but the synchronization of each subsystem is vital.

Today, technology is one of the most powerful tools for upgrading a city subsystem. Developments in technology find application areas in city subsystems: GPS technologies created various ease in transportation of people and freight; database technologies provided opportunities for health tracking systems; pattern recognition software created new chances for security systems; mobile technologies became indispensable for individuals in order to follow city activities. Besides, technology provides very useful opportunities for the synchronization of city subsystems. New technological applications are transforming the city onto a new level. Technology upgrades city subsystems so that the whole city system is being upgraded.

Cities that understand the importance of technology and apply new technology in related subsystems gain a competitive advantage over their competitors. For example, an inefficient working transportation system can cost an average of two more hours for each person in the city. On the other hand, efficient working tax collecting system via Internet supported by effective database system provides advantages to both leaders of the city as well as entrepreneurs.

Older cities try to upgrade their subsystems in order to reach a more efficient working system, whereas new cities are being built by using latest developments in technology. Founding a new city has advantages compared to upgrading to a new city, because, while trying to upgrade a city system, leaders must deal with conflicting parties in the city. For example, a company wants to utilize its old factory building as a new office building whereas closer inhabitants oppose the new project saying they need a park for their living environment.

Today, cities want to upgrade themselves into being more competitive in the creative market for various technology and consultancy companies. IBM’s “smart city”, Siemens’ “city of the future” and Cisco’s “connected cities” are some examples of these companies and their products. Although these companies are very good at their main business, their city upgrading related products are at the beginning level. It seems that these companies should divert much more of their resources to these products. Also, academicians’ interest from different disciplines is increasing on city competitiveness, especially, academicians from urban economy, and regional planning and strategy disciplines. The weight of technological application has increased on city subsystems, computer engineers, mechanical engineers, electronic engineers, and statisticians, even doctors have diverted their work of interest to city subsystems as well. Different pieces of city competition were under examination such as transportation, health, and utilities. The subsystems of cities are one of the topics that have not been elaborated as much. We know that efficient and effective working subsystems are crucial for a healthy system. Therefore, improving subsystems of cities is vital for a better working city system.

Various experts from different disciplines explain their views on how to reach a competitive city by improving the subsystems of cities in the book. Authors shared their chapters about increasing efficiency and effectiveness of city subsystems as well as the synchronization among them. While doing this, they concentrate on new technologies and their applications. Therefore, the book is composed of two parts. The first part includes chapters for technology related topics for city competitiveness. In this part, readers will find chapters that have more theoretical content. Authors’ evaluations of various technologies that are related to urban subsystems will be in this part.

In the first chapter, Ahmet Bulut explains the I3 framework for the competitiveness of a city. I3 is composed of instrumentation, interconnection, and an intelligence framework. The first component of I3, instrumentation, is about data collection. Data is important because it provides measurability. This is based on the assumption that if a process can be measured, then it can be improved. The second component, interconnection, is used to discover the associations and relationships between seemingly independent subsystems of a city. Through interconnection, the effects of any policy action can be evaluated holistically rather than focusing on a single dimension. The “intelligence” in I3 comes from being able to test specific policy hypotheses and making informed decisions based on the results of various policies that are put in place. Bulut considers his findings about the I3 framework on city competitiveness in his chapter.

Diana Hamburger discusses the importance of spatial location on city competitiveness.  She analyzes the meaning of distance for the city. The effect of Information Technologies on distance provides a new vision for the city planners. Evolution in the view of distance causes changes on the spatial position of cities and the urban settlements. Therefore the chapter has interesting discussion areas for the concepts like accessibility and centrality that are important parts of the transportation subsystem of the city. Moreover, utilities network with spatial reference is argued specially referring to the telecommunication networks in the chapter.

Rahaman and Lourenço examine the effects of the Geographic Information System on city competitiveness. The Geographic Information System is considered one of the most powerful tools of information and accessibility to information among different stakeholders and cities in the world by providing spatial data. In the third chapter, authors highlight the role of GIS technology to assess empirically the competition among cities or regions based on different criteria and values assembled by different individuals, businesses, institutions, etc… This chapter is structured with origins of urban competitiveness, dynamics and functions of competition, and GIS and its role as well as future research possibilities.

Maria Nadia Postorino’s chapter is a nice evaluation of the airport as a subsystem of the city. Cities that have developed transport systems benefit from a high-quality accessibility, which makes them more attractive both to users and investors. These cities have a competitive advantage for economic growth. Particularly, an airport can play an important role in assuring the development of the city best linked to it, as it enlarges its external accessibility and attractiveness.  Postorino’s chapter describes the importance of improvements concerning the surface transport systems linking cities to their nearest airports as well as improvements assuring safer operations and capacity enhancement at the city airport airside.

Mark Deakin in the fifth chapter develops the notion of the intelligent city as the smart provider of electronically enhanced services. He identifies how this growing interest in the notion of intelligent cities has led universities to explore the possibilities of using communities of practice (CoPs) as a way of drawing upon the work-based learning that such knowledge-based organizations offer to be smart in developing integrated models of e-government (eGov) services. Deakin analyzes the attempts made by a consortium of leading European cities to use the intelligence CoPs offer as organizational means to be smart in developing models of eGov services capable of integrating the e-learning needs, knowledge transfer requirements, and capacity building commitments of their socially-inclusive and participatory urban regeneration programs.

Ori Gudes et al. investigate the healthy city as a fundamental prerequisite for a competitive city. The main focus of the chapter is on the role of e-health planning, by utilizing Web-based geographic decision support systems. The proposed decision support system provides a powerful and effective platform for stakeholders to access essential data for decision-making purposes. The chapter also highlights the need for a comprehensive information framework to guide the process of planning for healthy cities. Additionally, it discusses the prospects and constraints of such an approach. The chapter outlines the potential insights of using information based framework and suggests practical planning methods as part of a more broad e-health approach for improving the health characteristics of competitive cities.

In the seventh chapter, Erkan Özdemir examines the city competitiveness in online environment. He focuses on the role of city websites for building and communicating the city brand. City administrators are taking advantage of the branding techniques used by the private sector companies in order to differentiate their cities from the rest and build an image and identity for them in this atmosphere of intensive competition. Özdemir’s chapter evaluates the role of the city websites in building city brands and promoting their brands. In order to fulfill the aim, the city branding, related concepts, and the role of the city websites in building city brands are introduced in the chapter. Randomly selected city websites from the City Brands Index, which are evaluated using content analysis, and the results of this analysis, are presented and discussed, respectively.

Evren Tok examines the technologies of neoliberal urbanization in reproducing new urban spaces that are oriented towards securing a competitive edge. His chapter explores the questions of: Are technologies instrumental to producing new city spaces; how do urban technologies influence the parameters of the reproduction of city spaces; and, which social representations, actors, and networks are involved in the process. He also contends that, in neoliberal times, new technologies of power enable the creation of more polycentric urban areas. This emerging role of the new technologies of power necessitates an analysis of the place of technologies in the mobilizing of low urban politics. In the analysis, it is important to be attuned to nuanced articulations of public interests and private initiatives that are enriched by representations of the spatial realities of cities. He says, “we are more likely to realize the importance of urban technologies and ‘street level’ everyday urban practices if, rather than treating them as divorced from each other, we ontologically recognize their marriage. Such an approach will help us to better diagnose the role that technologies play in moving us beyond dualities like public and private.”

The second section of the book includes application related chapters of new technologies for gaining competitiveness. The chapters in this section include cases from various cities from around the world. Readers will find examples of applications of new technologies for improving the subsystems of the city.

In the ninth chapter, Brunello et al. analyze the possible impacts of a high speed railway (HSR) infrastructure in Northern Italy. The chapter considers small and medium agglomerations in the vicinity of HSR corridors, not always served by HSR stations.  A methodology was developed in order to analyze the possible effects of an HSR for the northern part of the Italy. The results are significant for all countries in Europe and worldwide, not only for investing in an HSR infrastructure, but mostly in terms of building territorial cohesion, while seeking international recognition for developing successful new technologies and systems.
Luis Carvalho concerned with the recursive conflation between the concepts of city’s competitiveness in ICT and different versions of the knowledge city concept based on ICT and digitalization, often responsible for ambiguous political discourses and unclear local economic development strategies. To overcome this problem, the chapter distinguishes both concepts, identifies links between them and illustrates a way through which national and urban policies can support ICT-related city competitiveness, knowledge city strategies, and the local development of innovation arenas. The chapter illustrates these notions with the case of the on-going development of the Songdo district in South Korea, its competences in ubiquitous computing and the connection between its technological prowess with its ambitions of creating one of the most advanced u-cities in the world.

Tanughichi and Duarte examines database integration from various municipal Information Systems as an essential tool for urban and strategic planning. The city of Curitiba, Brazil, has implemented several Information Systems to enhance its public services, from education to health care. Most of these systems use several non-integrated personal smart cards to provide access to services. In the chapter, authors analyze public Information Systems and their inputs and outputs in Curitiba. Authors advocate that the personal smart card already used in the metropolitan transportation system only as a fare collection card, is, among all others, the best option, from a technological and administrative standpoint, to integrate all municipal Information Systems, improving the effectiveness of public services and assisting for a comprehensive planning process.

In the twelfth chapter, Jacqueline Bueno Sousa provides an interesting field analysis from US. She discusses the effect of Google data centers on cities. She focuses in her study on three communities where Google built major data centers: Goose Creek, SC; Lenoir, NC; and Council Bluffs, Iowa. The author interviews economic development officials in each of the three communities. As the result of her analysis, Sousa concludes that the data centers haven’t always lived up to its expectation.
Todaro and Cangel examine the urban geospatial maintenance system of Venice. The reader will see that Venice is not attractive only to tourists but also urban experts as well. The Venice geospatial maintenance system is based on five fundamental elements of the territory for its activities; canals, bridges, embankments, built architecture, and paving. The objective of the chapter is to highlight the fact that, in a city, it is important to start with operative processes and everyday work. It is important that the systems not only be containers for masters (even geometric or geo-referential masters). They must become a part of actual management systems based on geospatial objects.

As can be seen in the contents of the chapters, this book has a multidisciplinary approach due its scope. Since the subsystems of the city uses various branches of the technology in order to be efficient and effective, readers should be prepared to be faced with wide technological terminology. Besides, it is assumed that the reader has knowledge about subsystems of a city. 
Since the chapters have a strategy component beside technology content, it was rare to meet such experts and academicians working on these two components of the city simultaneously. Therefore, I really appreciate the authors for their contributions. I believe that this book will be a pioneer in studies that bring technology and strategy components for the city. Therefore I am hoping that the number of books and articles will increase in the future.

I acknowledge Tan Yigitcanlar supported the book during the preparation time by giving his comments and wrote a visionary foreword for readers. My wife, Yasemin visited various cities throughout the world with me and provided a comfortable environment during the preparation of the book. Erika Carter, Jan Travers, Hannah Abelbeck, and Christine Bufton coordinated all of the technical details perfectly between authors and the publisher. Obviously, 25 authors from various parts of the world believed the importance of the topic and shared their knowledge in their chapters. I thank all the authors for their valuable chapters.