Smart City: An Operational Definition
The term “Smart City” is not new, and not an easy one to characterize. There is no universally accepted definition, but an authentic multitude of definitions, not always consistent, which tend to highlight different aspects of a problem with many facets. Despite this proliferation of interpretations, the essence of the Smart City issue is for us relatively simple: since we are in the presence of a strong concentration of the human population in urban areas (a growing phenomenon in Europe and even more so in emerging areas of the world), cities are the place of the world where the bulk of the consumption of energy and non-renewable resources is concentrated. This implies that the innovations that must guide us towards a new model of sustainable development should be experimented first of all within cities, where they may cause more benefits. A Smart City will be therefore a city that is able to activate an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to its planning and management, with the aim of reaching the target of triple sustainability, i.e. social, economic and environmental sustainability at the same time.
What is the Smart City Strategic Program
Well before the launch of the official “Smart Cities” calls, ISMB managed to become a champion of applied ICT R&D projects on smart cities, as it is testified by our participation, as partners or coordinators, into several EU, national and regional projects, approaching the Smart City issue from different angles.
In 2011 ISMB launched its Smart City Strategic Program to realize a quality leap in its approach to the issue, designing a multi-disciplinary research program that merges the traditional technological skills of the Institute with new ones, such as urban planning and socio-economic analysis. Our aim is to promote the use of ICT as an enabling factor for an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to urban planning and management. We approach cities as complex systems of systems, with the final objective to pursue the triple sustainability target.
Our effort has been carried from the beginning with a multi-level approach, trying to study the global best practices and to adapt them to the local contexts in which we operate. We are active members of several international forums for the exchange of best practices in the Smart City domain, such as the Smart Cities and Communities Market Place, the World Smart Capital Initiative, the European Energy Research Alliance, the Renewable Heating & Cooling platform and many others, and we work with several cities to help them define their roadmap towards the triple sustainability target.
Shortly after its creation, the Program launched a research effort with the aim to develop methods and tools for “Scientific Urban Management”. In short, we are developing open source Decision Support Systems integrating different Modeling & Simulation (M&S) techniques, to better predict and measure the impact of alternative smart city initiatives on the path towards the triple sustainability target. We believe that these tools will allow urban decision makers, solution providers and investment managers to predict, on the basis of a scientific approach, what initiatives will better contribute to implement the local smart city strategies, and to satisfy the real needs of the citizens, thus reducing the risks associated with the deployment of large-scale innovations in the urban context.
In the brochure available here you will find a short description of the tools that we are developing.