Smart Cities: A Salad Bowl of Citizens, ICT, and Environment

Smart Cities: A Salad Bowl of Citizens, ICT, and Environment

Elsa Negre (Paris-Dauphine University, France) and Camille Rosenthal-Sabroux (Paris-Dauphine University, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8282-5.ch004


Smart City is a fuzzy concept that has not been clearly defined either in theoretical studies or in empirical projects. Smart Cities are based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), people (with their knowledge, habits, experiences, culture and behaviour) remain at the heart of concerns. In this chapter we are interested in the centrality of citizens (i.e. in the heart of the city) and of ICT in their environment. This leads us to take into account the tacit knowledge brought by citizens and the knowledge that may be divulged through ICT. We then present the concept of the Information and Knowledge System (IKS), and then we explain how it differs from that of the Digital Information System (DIS). We also point to the role of ICT in the DIS, and to their impact on improving the smartness of cities.
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Since the early 1990s, the development of Internet and communication technologies has facilitated actions designed to create opportunities for communication and information sharing by local authorities. This phenomenon first appeared in the United States before moving across the globe to Europe and Asia. Indeed, in our everyday lives we are increasingly overwhelmed by data and information. This constant flow of data and information is often the result of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Moreover, the potentialities of ICT, that have increased almost exponentially, have given rise to a huge mass of data to be processed (Batty, 2013). We live in an increasingly digital world, and people are beginning to feel the effects of these changes. Cities need to be closer to their citizens (Bettencourt, 2013).

Today’s world faces two important forms of growth: the growth of urbanization, and the rise of information technologies, meaning that digital infrastructures infer an information environment that is “as imperceptible to us as water is to a fish” (McLuhan & Gordon, 2011).

As pointed out by Lima (2011),

The complexity of connectedness of modern times requires new tools of analysis and exploration, but above all it demands a new way of thinking. It demands a pluralistic understanding of the world that is able to envision the widen structural plan and at the same time examine the intricate mesh of connections among its smallest elements. It ultimately calls for a holistic systems approach; it calls for network thinking.

There is a kind of parallelism between technologies and humans. On the one hand, people increasingly use technologies and are now hyper-connected, while on the other hand, (numeric) systems are increasingly user-centered (Viitanen & Kingston, 2014). Thus, within cities, systems have to adapt to hyper-connected citizens, in a very specific environment, namely that of cities in constant evolution where systems and humans are nested.

The advent of new technologies also means that the city is now faced with a massive influx of data (Big Data) from heterogeneous sources including social networks. It is also important to note that much information and / or knowledge flows between different people (with different purposes and backgrounds) and between different stakeholders (Kennedy, 2012). In this respect, the city sees numerous data circulate via the internet, wireless communication, mobile phones,…

Being “smart” is an increasingly important challenge for many cities and communities. This is of particular interest within the domain of ICT, and for such systems where economic, social, and other issues prevail. Giffinger et al. (2007) propose a ranking of 70 European medium-sized cities by using 6 characteristics. In fact, for Giffinger et al. (2007),

A Smart City is a city well performing in a forward-looking way in these six characteristics, built on the “smart” combination of endowments and activities of self-decisive, independent and aware citizens. […] Each characteristic is therefore defined by a number of factors. Furthermore, each factor is described by a number of indicators. […] Finally 33 factors were chosen to describe the 6 characteristics:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Knowledge System (IKS): Principally consists in a set of individuals (people) and Digital Information Systems.

Information System: Is an organized set of resources: material, software, employees, data, procedures, in order to acquire, to process, to store, to disseminate information (data, documents, image, sound, etc.) in organization.

ICT: Information and Communication Technology.

Smart Cities: Cities are smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.

Tacit Knowledge: Is an intangible element.

Knowledge Management: Is the management of the activities and the processes that enhance the utilization and the creation of knowledge within an organization, according to two strongly interlinked goals, and their underlying economic and strategic dimensions, organizational dimensions, socio-cultural dimensions, and technological dimensions: ( i ) a patrimony goal, and ( ii ) a sustainable innovation goal.”

Sharing Knowledge: Is the tacit knowledge shared among people.

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