Smart cities
Smart cities

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Smart cities

4.1 Core elements of a smart city

In this section of the course you will watch a video to find out answers to some questions about the core elements of a smart city.

Activity 2 Thinking about the core elements of a smart city

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the video and answer the following questions:

  • What are the five core elements of developing a smart city project or programme introduced in the video?
  • Do you think anything is missing? If so, why do you think it is important?
Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_smartcities_vid_1008.mp4
Skip transcript


In approaching smart cities it's helpful to consider the following five elements which we'll be exploring throughout the course.
Citizens: smart cities are taking different approaches to engaging the people who live, work, play and create within them. We call these citizens. Some see citizens as consumers of smart city services, a top-down approach, driven by city government's need for greater efficiency and shaped by technology companies who supply the solutions. However there is now a shift towards citizens taking a central role in developing smart cities, a bottom-up approach. Smart city solutions should be based on citizens' needs and they should be accessible and easy to use. This can be done through co-creation with citizens. In practise engaging citizens is immensely challenging as trust is a big issue.
Infrastructure, technology and data: infrastructure enables our city systems to operate. For example roads, buildings and communication networks. Smart cities are exploring how they can future-proof infrastrucuture to deal with challenges such as climate change. Smart infrastructure contains smart technology that enables us to manage it in an integrated way. Sensors create a rich source of data that can increase our knowledge about city problems and help us plan solutions but this raises questions about data ownership. Privacy, security and ethics are also big issues smart cities need to address.
Innovation and enterprise: cities are centres of economic activity. A smart city can be thought of as a smart ecosystem of different organisations, activities and stakeholders who make it smart. Smart cities tap into what's known as the data economy which drives innovation and creates social and economic value. This has led to the emergence of open innovation including open data and city ideas platforms. You are exploring smart cities at a crucial moment in their evolution. We will be looking at how to finance smart cities and future business models.
Leadership and strategy: the issue of who leads our smart cities is crucial to their development. Effective leadership and inclusive decision-making that empowers city stakeholders is key to the success of smart cities. Collaboration is central to smart cities. This can be achieved through a variety of city-partnership models. We will be looking at the role of smart city strategies and standards and whether they are helpful.
Measurement and learning: smart cities need to be able to measure progress. We will be exploring how cities are using smart city metrics and indicators and how they measure city performance. Learning plays an important role in smart cities. Cities are seeing the value of open approaches where they share ideas and network with partners, citizens and other cities. We will look at education courses being developed for city leaders, citizens and start-ups.
End transcript
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Hopefully you found this dicussion of the five core elements of a smart city useful. You should have noted that the five elements are:

  1. Citizens
  2. Infrastructure, technology and data
  3. Innovation and enterprise
  4. Leadership and strategy
  5. Measurement and learning.

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