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How to build a Smart City

With security and interconnectivity at its core, the lure of Smart Cities has increased in recent years. But what needs to be taken into consideration when planning to build a Smart City?

A Smart City is an urban development that unites the needs of the citizens in a sustainable and secure way. All buildings, cars and machines are connected, constantly transmitting data to improve and develop the city. Road monitors can report real-time traffic to cars, easing traffic and reducing the risk of road collisions, for example, and Smart Cities have also developed e-learning education and 24/7 healthcare, providing modern services to all inhabitants.

Alongside this, Smart City technology can monitor the pollution and chemical levels in the air and water supply, reducing the risk of both air and water contamination. Smart energy sources are also implemented, to ensure the city is developing and continuing its sustainability. These innovations, alongside countless others, mean Smart Cities can enormously improve the standard of living for the citizens and sustain the environment long term - but what needs to be taken into consideration when planning to build a Smart City?

Determine the needs of the area

Each Smart City needs to be tailored to the city itself, as each location has different needs. Smart Cities can resolve the city’s issues through introducing new technology, but Smart Cities do not come in a single fixed template. The climate, temperature, and location all impact the specific needs of the Smart City – a Smart City in Tokyo will not have the same needs as a Smart City in South America. The city’s specific needs will be debated before the adaption starts, with regular city evaluations carried out to analyse the technology and optimise its use.

However, it is not only the authorities and developers that should be engaged in the decision making process, all citizens should have an input. The public should have the opportunity to discuss what needs to be improved or changed in the Smart City with the developers. By doing this, total communication is achieved, allowing all inhabitants of the Smart City to be involved in the planning process - leading to a Smart City that pleases all citizens and tackles the issues that need to be addressed.

Communicate the vision

After a plan is decided, a budget needs to be agreed upon. With a realistic budget in place a model of the Smart City can be created and discussed. This is the stage that investors begin to invest money into the project, with a planned Smart City model that is realistic and affordable. Any unrealistic suggestions are disregarded at this point, and the Smart City plans begin to take shape.

Introducing the Smart City plan to the authorities, investors, and public will spark discussion about any further needs of the Smart City, allowing all members to feel engaged and appreciated in the planning process. Smart City development can be discussed through public meetings and displays, offering the public an opportunity to suggest improvements to their city or to comment on the city plans already in place.


Once the Smart City plan is discussed with the public and developers, the short and long-term goals of the Smart City need to be set in order of priority. A list of the most important goals to the least important goals should be decided upon, each with individual time limits and budgets. The movement from a general city to a Smart City is a gradual process – Smart City status isn’t achieved overnight.

Projects with long-term benefits should be prioritised over shorter ones, as the Smart City relies on sustainability and gradual deployment. After the long term goals are in place, the short term goals can steadily follow. A long term goal will create sustainability within the city, whereas a short term goal will have a smaller impact on the city’s Smartness. Eventually all goals will be implemented, and the city will interconnect and consequently achieve its ‘Smart’ and sustainable status.

Deploy smart things

Once long-term goals start to be deployed, the introduction of ‘Smart objects’ should closely follow. Smart objects connect the city, constantly transmitting data to various devices and buildings. Smart objects can range from traffic-to-car update transmissions to automated logins at GP surgeries. Some Smart objects will impact the whole city, whereas other Smart technology will target smaller groups and individuals.

However, Smart objects (including sensors and facilitations) should not all be deployed at once. A gradual introduction of Smart objects will achieve maximum potential and reduce the risk of overwhelming the citizens with technology. Smart City technology may be advanced for some citizens, so a steady introduction will allow the City to ease into its transition, optimising the learning and communication of new Smart City technology.

Think about the future

Smart Cities technology is constantly being developed. It is constantly increasing in size and speed, so it is important for the Smart City to analyse and adapt its own growth and technology with the technology that is being created. Frequent evaluations should be carried out to discuss potential flaws or limits, and to ensure that the technology is reaching its maximum impact. Smart Cities should be sustainable and all technology should be implemented as a long-term investment, making the city future-proof. If the citizens and authorities continuously learn and adapt to new technology, a better Smart City future will be achieved and the city will continue to progress.

Smart Cities and their technology, if deployed correctly, will produce tailored enhancements that will improve the quality of life for all inhabitants and will sustain the city’s growth. To achieve this, all authority members and citizens should input their opinion into the Smart City’s deployment, creating tailored improvements. If maximum optimisation and engagement is seamlessly achieved, the city will become endlessly ‘Smart’. Smart Cities offer improvements to day to day life in the present and future, with endless technological and sustainable development on the horizon.

Jarosław Czaja, CEO of Future Processing

Image source: Shutterstock/hin255