Getting Started with Smart Cities

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February 25, 2021
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n this ACM Select, we are excited to introduce the concept of smart cities and help interested practitioners to get started with smart cities. We provide a short curated list of resources that you might find useful to learn more about smart cities through expert knowledge. Smart cities is a highly interdisciplinary field that has interest from many industrial, academic, and governmental organizations all over the world. The research in smart cities comes from various disciplines such as architecture, computer science, electronics, civil engineering, and political science among others. A key part of smart cities is the “human” aspect, as one can imagine neither the future of cities or any application for the cities without the people being in the center of these solutions. The human settlements, residents and visitors are what make the cities. Another key part is the “data” aspect, which enables smart data-driven decision making for the cities.

According to the United Nations’ report, “The World’s Cities in 2018”, 55.3% of the world population already live in urban settlements. This is a global phenomenon that has transformed the way we live, work and travel, the effects of which pose significant associated with high-density living, resource management, ecosystem cohabitation, and pollution. Smart cities sit at the intersection of technology, urban planning, and long-term sustainable development, enabling communities to create public services that provide safety, efficiency, and engagement for the citizens of today and the future. 

Smart City as a Concept

Smart cities: concepts, architectures, research opportunities

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59, No. 8, July 2016.
Improving the quality of life of citizens has been the main target of the people behind smart cities all over the world. This article from the Communications of the ACM specifies the key concepts, models and architectures of smart cities. The article also identifies the future directions (research challenges and opportunities) for smart cities where developers, architects, and designers can focus. Reading this article would give a general understanding on the smart city vision from different perspectives ranging from research to industries and municipalities. 
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Conceptualizing Smart City with Dimensions of Technology, People, and Institutions

First published In Proc. of the 12th Annual International Digital Government Research Conference: Digital Government Innovation in Challenging Times (dg.o '11), June 2011.
Simply putting together technologies does not make a city smart. Smart City is a very broad concept defined under different perspectives from heterogeneous stakeholders. This paper, presented in 2011, at a time that the smart city topic was hectic and chaotic, clarifies the different factors of a smart city. The directions given by the authors for harmonizing engineers, citizens, and governance are nowadays followed to pursue successful smart cities.
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Inclusive Design-thinking for Smart Cities

More-than-human participation: design for sustainable smart city futures 

First published in Interactions, Vol. 26, No. 3, April 2019.
Smart cities agendas leverage information and communication technologies to optimize and manage urban processes. However, these agendas have often been predominantly human-centric, not taking account how human and non-human species interact and impact long-term sustainability. In this Interactions article, the authors share their perspectives on an alternative smart city agenda that takes into account environmental biodiversity, with examples derived from an interdisciplinary workshop at the 2018 Participatory Design Conference in Hasselt, Belgium.
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Future-Making: Inclusive Design and Smart Cities

First published in Interactions, Vol. 24, No. 2, February 2017.
Creating responsible and practical approaches for smart cities requires interdisciplinary and inclusive engagement from different stakeholders invested in these developments. In this Interactions article, Maureen Meadows and Matthjis Kouw propose a framework for visioning and addressing broader societal concerns and perspectives related to the development of smart cities. We recommend this resource for its examination of collective composition and its role in improving how we approach smart cities design.
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Smart City Data Analytics

A Systematic Review for Smart City Data Analytics

First published in ACM Computing Surveys, Vol. 51, No. 5, December 2018.
Data analytics is at the core of the smart city ecosystems as innovative technical solutions and key smart services are developed through data analytics. Moreover, data analytics enable data-driven decision making by the city authorities as well as the residents. This survey in ACM Computing Surveys makes a systematic review to “connect the pieces between data science and smart cities”. The article identifies key research studies in the smart city domain and categorize them by answering questions such as how many studies exist for smart cities and data analytics, what are the keywords used in the smart city studies, what type of smart city data sources do the studies leverage, and what are the innovation areas (smart dimensions) in smart cities.
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Data Sets, Modeling, and Decision Making in Smart Cities: A Survey

First published in ACM Transactions in Cyber-Physical Systems, February 2020.
If you do not know where to start to play with smart city data, this survey published at the ACM Transactions in Cyber-Physical Systems is what you need to read. Here you will find an extensive list of open smart city datasets and analytics approaches to have a practitioner quickly diving into experimenting. The covered domains are amongst the most common in a smart city: transportation, environment, emergency, and public safety, energy, and social sensing.
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Ethics in Smart Cities

Who benefits?

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 62, No. 7, July 2019.
As in any other profession, ethics is at the heart of any field in computing, including smart cities. Although smart cities envision various benefits to society, there is still an open question on who benefits. This article from the Communications of the ACM discusses the ethical aspects of computing for the use case of smart cities. The article also calls for attention of the computing professionals on the application of computing ethics defined by the ACM Code of Ethics for creating the liveable smart cities of the future. This short article gives a distinct perspective on the computing in smart cities.
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