Penn State Identifies Four Smart City Types

A team of researchers from Penn State led by Dr. Krishna Jayakar, Professor of Telecommunications, have categorized smart cities worldwide into four distinct types. The categories may help city planners identify and copy models that are close to their own socio-economic circumstances and goals.

“Smart cities are those that use new information and communication technologies to solve pressing problems – -such as housing, transportation, and energy — in urban planning and governance,” said Jayakar. “Yet, the term ‘smart city,’ remains more of a buzzword than a clearly articulated program of action. Our research seeks to identify models of the smart city from the bottom-up, by looking at programs municipal planners have actually implemented.”

The team conducted a comparative analysis of 60 municipal smart-city plans from around the world. They used a statistical tool, called cluster analysis, to identify the combinations of projects that are most often used together.

Their results reveal four major types of smart city:

  • Essential Services Model – characterized by their use of mobile networks in their emergency management programs and by their digital healthcare services. Examples include Tokyo and Copenhagen;
  • Smart Transportation Model – emphasize initiatives to control urban congestion, as well as the use of information and communication technologies. Examples include Singapore and Dubai;
  • Broad Spectrum Model – emphasize urban services, such as water, sewage and waste management, and seek technological solutions for pollution control. Examples include Barcelona, Vancouver and Beijing; and,
  • Business Ecosystem Model – seek to use the potential of information and communication technologies to jump start economic activity. Examples include Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Cape Town.

“Our findings can provide city planners with information on specific projects and templates implemented in the field by other planners,” said Jayakar. “Cities hoping to implement smart city plans may also consult the four models to identify cities that match their socio-economic circumstances the most closely to use as an aid in devising their own plans.”