Urenio Watch Watch: Publications on Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Towards High Impact Smart Cities: a Universal Architecture Based on Connected Intelligence Spaces

This paper investigates a different direction in smart city design and efficiency, based on lessons learned from high impact smart city projects and ecosystems. The authors focus on ‘˜Connected Intelligence Spaces’ created in smart city ecosystems, which (a) have physical, social, and digital dimensions; (b) work as systems of innovation enabling synergies between human, machine, and collective intelligence; and (c) improve efficiency and performance by innovating rather than optimizing city routines.

According to this paper, the way smart cities are created brings about two weaknesses. First, there is strong compartmentation of solutions and systems, which are developing in vertical markets for energy, transport, governance, safety, etc., silos with little interoperability and sharing of resources. Second, there is a low impact. There is an important knowledge gap about developing cross-sector, high-impact smart city systems. The authors argue that these two weaknesses can be disastrous for the smart city as a holistic model of urban development and planning and indicate the need for more flexible smart systems and more complex architectures connecting the urban, innovation, and digital components of smart cities.

According to the authors, developing a common ontology and a prototype smart ecosystem to be used across city domains and verticals would allow overcoming the fragmentation of smart city solutions and create a digital platform to be used across different city ecosystems. This can greatly simplify the design of smart systems suitable for different city ecosystems and vertical city markets, offer advantages of interoperability, efficiency, cost, and complexity reduction, as well as management simplification.

The research hypothesis in this paper is about a universal architecture of high impact smart city projects, due to underlying connected intelligence spaces and cyber-physical-social systems of innovation. The authors assess this hypothesis with empirical evidence from case studies related to smart city projects dealing with safety (Vision-Zero), transportation (MaaS), and energy (positive energy districts). They highlight the main elements of operation and how high efficiency is achieved across these verticals. They identify commonalities, common innovation functions, and associations between functions, towards the definition of a common architecture enabling innovation and high performance across smart city ecosystems.

Given this aim, the paper presents the research as follows. First there is an outline of the theoretical framework to address the problem stated. After that, the authors provide empirical evidence from case studies on high impact smart city projects dealing with safety, transportation, and energy. They highlight their main elements of operation and how high efficiency is achieved across smart city verticals. The discussion is a reflection on the lessons learned from the case studies, a verification of the assessed hypothesis and an identification of commonalities, innovation functions, and associations between functions, allowing to define a common architecture for innovation and performance scale-up across smart city ecosystems. Finally, in the conclusions, the authors return to the main argument that high efficient smart city ecosystems replace rather than optimize existing city routines by deploying Connected Intelligence Spaces.

The researchers highlight the need for further investigation with a larger sample of smart city projects and ecosystems. They conclude the paper by proposing three directions for further research.

You can find the paper here.