Introduction to Smart Cities


Welcome to the Readiness Guide. This document was assembled with input from many of the world’s leading smart city practitioners – the members and advisors of the Smart Cities Council. It will help you create a vision for the future of your own city. Equally important, it will help you build an action plan to get to that better future.

How to Use the Readiness Guide


The role of the Readiness Guide is to help you transition to a smart city, at your own pace and on your own terms. This chapter explains the Smart Cities Framework that supports that mission. We think you will find it a useful mechanism to understand the totality of a smart city and how the pieces work together. This chapter gives you what you need to construct a “target list” or “wish list” for your city. When you are ready to turn that list into an actual plan, you’ll find guidance in the, “Ideas to Action” chapter.

Smart People


A city isn’t smart because it uses technology. A city is smart because it uses technology to make its citizens’ lives better. This chapter focuses on the “secret sauce” that turns the idea of a smart city into reality – the people who live in the city, who work in the city and the people who have hopes and dreams for the kind of city they will leave for future generations.



Some of today’s greatest cities benefitted from visionaries who – centuries ago – saw possibilities for civic betterment and made it happen. A compelling example comes from leaders back in the 1800s. Way before the phrase “urban sprawl” had entered our psyche, they committed to preserving vast amounts of open spaces for public use. Think of Hyde Park in London, Central Park jutting through Manhattan or Ueno Park in Tokyo. They are all testaments to leaders “thinking outside the box” a very long time ago.

Built Environment


The built environment is an essential piece of the smart city puzzle. Buildings are the biggest single source of carbon emissions, accounting for about 40% of the world’s carbon footprint, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Buildings are energy hogs too, eating up nearly half of all energy consumed in the United States. Any city serious about livability, workability and sustainability must raise the “intelligence quotient” of its built environment.



Cities can’t function without energy. It fuels our cars, subways and trains. It cools, heats and lights our homes and businesses. It pumps our water and processes the food we eat. And it powers the technologies that are the foundation of a smart city. To ensure a smart energy future, cities and utilities must work together – regardless of whether the utility is part of local government or a private investor-owned utility that supplies the city’s energy.



Ubiquitous broadband telecommunication is a prerequisite for a smart city. This chapter explains how to achieve a telecommunications architecture that can serve as the foundation of a smart city and the foundation for major improvements in livability, workability and sustainability. We begin by defining telecommunications, both as it exists today and as it will evolve tomorrow. After we discuss the “what,” we’ll talk about the “why” – why telecommunications is so vital to smart city success. We’ll finish by discussing the targets for telecommunications – the end states at which you should aim your efforts. Along the way, we will pay brief visits to telecommunications success stories from around the world.



In this chapter we refer to transportation as any and every system that moves people around a city. Think of a city’s streets, vehicles, railways, subways, buses, bicycles, streetcars, ferries and so on. All play an essential role in the hustle and bustle of today’s cities – in commuting to work, running errands, attending classes, enjoying a night out, shipping and receiving products, delivering pizzas. We rely on the vast web of transportation networks in our cities. We trust that they will get us where we need to be in an efficient, safe manner for a reasonable price.

Water and Wastewater


Few people need to be reminded of water’s importance. Along with energy, it is essential for everyday life. Water provides sustenance, supports industry and irrigates fields. But city administrations are struggling to meet rising demand from growing populations while contending with issues such as water quality, flooding, drought and aging infrastructure.

Waste Management


Surging population growth in cities is not only challenging city leaders to find better ways to deliver transportation, energy, public safety and other municipal services, it’s also forcing them to deal with more garbage. The good news is that smart solutions are emerging in the solid waste management arena. Technologies are coming to market that can help cities collect and process waste more efficiently and recover valuable materials from the waste steam. In this chapter we examine how smart technologies are enabling cities to manage municipal solid waste (MSW) in an efficient and sustainable manner. As in other city responsibility areas, information and communications technologies (ICT) are driving many of these new solutions, particularly in the area of garbage collection. But scaled-up applications in the realm of biological and industrial engineering are also involved.