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Special Issue on “Smart Cities – Infrastructure and Information”

The Open Access Journal Urban Planning has published a special issue related to the topic of smart cities, and more specifically related to the aspect of infrastructure and information. It contains one editorial and three articles that present different smart cities solutions implemented in real-case scenarios. The editors of the special issue are Soora Rasouli, Harry Timmermans and Dujuan Yang.


Three Tales about Limits to Smart Cities Solutions (editorial)

Soora Rasouli, Harry Timmerman and Dujuan Yang


This editorial is the introduction to a special issue on smart cities. The concept of a smart city is not well-defined, yet expectations among urban planners and decision-makers are high. This special issue contains three papers that discuss three different manifestations of smart cities and the success’”or lack of it’”of the solutions discussed. The papers highlight some limitations of the concept of smart cities, but at the same time also pinpoint some potentially beneficial solutions.

The Ubiquitous-Eco-City of Songdo: An Urban Systems Perspective on South Korea’ s Green City Approach

Paul D. Mullins


Since the 1980s, within the broader context of studies on smart cities, there has been a growing body of academic research on networked cities and “computable cities’ by authors including Manuel Castells (Castells, 1989; Castells & Cardoso, 2005), William Mitchell (1995), Michael Batty (2005, 2013), and Rob Kitchin (2011). Over the last decade, governments in Asia have displayed an appetite and commitment to construct large scale city developments from scratch’”one of the most infamous being the smart entrepreneurial city of Songdo, South Korea. Using Songdo as a case study, this paper will examine, from an urban systems perspective, some of the challenges of using a green-city model led by networked technology. More specifically, this study intends to add to the growing body of smart city literature by using an external global event’”the global financial crisis in 2008’”to reveal what is missing from the smart city narrative in Songdo.

The paper will use the definition of an urban system and internal subsystems by Bertuglia et al. (1987) and Bertuglia, Clarke and Wilson (1994) to reveal the sensitivity and resilience of a predetermined smart city narrative. For instance, what happens if the vision moves from the originally intended international-orientated population towards remarketing the city to attract a domestic middle-class population. The lens of the financial crisis in 2008 revealed that the inherent inflexibility of a closed-system approach in Songdo was not sufficiently resilient to external shocks. The shift towards a domestic middle-class population revealed the inequality in accessing the city services in a system designed with formalized and rigid inputs and outputs. By focusing predominantly on technology, the social dimensions of the city were not part of Songdo’ s smart city vocabulary. Therefore, in adopting a technologically deterministic approach (Mullins & Shwayri, 2016) to achieving efficiency and combating environmental issues, Songdo’ s green city model was found insufficient in its ability to cope with the complexity and dissonance that occurs in relation to “glocal’ challenges facing cities today.

Mobility as a Service: A Critical Review of Definitions, Assessments of Schemes, and Key Challenges

Peraphan Jittrapirom , Valeria Caiati , Anna-Maria Feneri , Shima Ebrahimigharehbaghi , María J. Alonso González and Jishnu Narayan


Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a recent innovative transport concept, anticipated to induce   significant changes in the current transport practices. However, there is ambiguity surrounding the concept; it is uncertain what are the core characteristics of MaaS and in which way they can be addressed. Further, there is a lack of an assessment framework to classify their unique characteristics in a systematic manner, even though several MaaS schemes have been implemented around the world. In this study, we define this set of attributes through a literature review, which is then used to describe selected MaaS schemes and existing applications. We also examine the potential implications of the identified core characteristics of the service on the following three areas of transport practices: travel demand modelling, a supply-side analysis, and designing business model. Finally, we propose the necessary enhancements needed to deliver such an innovative service like MaaS, by establishing the state of art in those fields.

Investigating the Potential of Ridesharing to Reduce Vehicle Emissions

by Roozbeh Jalali , Seama Koohi-Fayegh , Khalil El-Khatib , Daniel Hoornweg and Heng Li  


As urban populations grow, cities need new strategies to maintain a good standard of living while enhancing services and infrastructure development. A key area for improving city operations and spatial layout is the transportation of people and goods. While conventional transportation systems (i.e., fossil fuel based) are struggling to serve mobility needs for growing populations, they also represent serious environmental threats. Alternative-fuel vehicles can reduce emissions that contribute to local air pollution and greenhouse gases as mobility needs grow. However, even if alternative-powered vehicles were widely employed, road congestion would still increase.

This paper investigates ridesharing as a mobility option to reduce emissions (carbon, particulates and ozone) while accommodating growing transportation needs and reducing overall congestion. The potential of ridesharing to reduce carbon emissions from personal vehicles in Changsha, China, is examined by reviewing mobility patterns of approximately 8,900 privately-owned vehicles over two months. Big data analytics identify ridesharing potential among these drivers by grouping vehicles by their trajectory similarity.

The approach includes five steps: data preprocessing, trip recognition, feature vector creation, similarity measurement and clustering. Potential reductions in vehicle emissions through ridesharing among a specific group of drivers are calculated and discussed. While the quantitative results of this analysis are specific to the population of Changsha, they provide useful insights for the potential of ridesharing to reduce vehicle emissions and the congestion expected to grow with mobility needs. Within the study area, ridesharing has the potential to reduce total kilometers driven by about 24% assuming a maximum distance between trips less than 10 kilometers, and schedule time less than 60 minutes. For a more conservative maximum trip distance of 2 kilometers and passenger schedule time of less than 40 minutes, the reductions in traveled kilometers could translate to the equivalent of approximately 4.0 tons CO2 emission reductions daily.

  • Download the special issue here.