Imagine you enter a car that doesn’t require anything from you. You don’t need to drive, you don’t need to change gears, you don’t even have to point out which is the best route to reach your destination. Through million sensors it is able to connect with the traffic lights and choose the less crowded roads. This is how a typical day in a “smart city” will look like, and based on the today’s developments, innovations like the above will very soon become part of our everyday lives.

Intelligent cities offer the greatest safety and effectiveness for all their citizens. Cars, road lights, even rubbish bins collect data in order to reduce the cost of energy and provide better services to people and companies. According to research, the global market of smart cities is estimated at around 2 trillion dollars, considering that the factor of the cities’ “intelligence” plays a determining role in the decision of the businessmen to invest in them.

Collecting garbage is a timeless issue in big urban centers, especially in areas with a high density of population. In a smart city, bins have built-in sensors, so that the authorities will be automatically notified when it is needed.

Moreover, smart cities are very friendly to people with disabilities. For example, going around a new city will not be dangerous for a person with vision loss. Smartphones will make use of beacon technology to provide users with information on how to reach their destination.


Generally, the connection of everything that surrounds us with the web (internet of things) can prevent unforeseeable situations that used to endanger our safety. The new refrigerators adjust their temperature according to the type of the medicine or the vaccine that we store in them, so that they maximize their effectiveness. Finally, fire disasters can be reduced, since the collected data will show which areas are of higher risk.

Vienna is an impressively intelligent city. This favorite European capital is on the top of the lists that are related with the conversion to smart cities e.g. internet governance and urban green. Vienna aims to modernize the transport system and reduce the buildings’ gas emissions.

On the other side of Atlantic and more specifically in Toronto, the private and public sector cooperate effectively in order to use alternative energy sources and utilize Analytics. This plan has been designed by IBM and concerns data collection for the behavior of people aimed at offering more qualitative services. In the top 10 smart cities are also included: Paris, New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Hong Kong and Barcelona.

The quick response of these cities to the new developments has nothing to do with chance. Many ecosystems that promote the innovation of smart cities, motivate citizens to follow the changes that happen around them and join them in order to gain the all the possible benefits, have already been created. A typical example is the Cognicity Hub in London that hosts workshops, talks, services, mentoring and hackathons, with the goal to create and boost companies that use revolutionary technology. Another interesting platform is Amsterdam Smart City. Its orientation is clearly more political, as it addresses the parties’ representatives. The parliamentary representatives are asked to make their proposals for the new smart actions or the modernization of the already existing ones.

Summing up, smart cities are part of the present, not the future and are continuously evolving. Governance, the way we move, the method of collecting and using data are changing really fast. Our cars may become independent in a short period of time, but it is still important to be steady up-to-date with the new intelligent technology, in order to be able to control the developments.

Sites worth visiting:

Learn more about smart cities in this book:
Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia- Anthony M. Townsend

The video is from The Daily Conversation and the image from

Written by Marianna Lazarou
Translated by Maria Piskiouli