Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Special Issue on Smart Applications for Smart Cities - New Approaches to Innovation: Guest Editors' Introduction

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Special Issue on Smart Applications for Smart Cities - New Approaches to Innovation: Guest Editors' Introduction

Article excerpt

Cities are complex, networked and continuously changing social ecosystems, shaped and transformed through the interaction of different interests and ambitions. Employment, sustainable development, inclusion, security and quality of life are important concerns and in this respect many cities are confronted with a wide range of challenges. Cities, particularly in rural areas, are also facing the implications of ageing population in combination with economic decline [9]. However cities also represent a promise for the future: a vision of freedom, creativity, opportunity and prosperity [4]. More than half of the global population is now urban and projections estimate that this percentage will even grow towards 70 % in 2050 [13]. At the same time, technology is currently promoting unprecedented changes in urban areas, which are often labelled as smart city developments. Internet-based infrastructures of cities, addressing the above mentioned concerns, comprise a diversity of services in areas such as healthcare, energy, education, environmental management, transportation and mobility, and public safety. These services are increasingly enabled by broadband infrastructures, wireless sensor networks, Internet-based networked applications, open data and open platforms. Over the past decade digital technologies have begun to blanket our cities, working together to form the backbone of a large, intelligent infrastructure. Broadband fibre-optic and wireless telecommunications grids are supporting mobile phones, smart phones and tablets that are increasingly affordable. At the same time, open databases - especially about government - that people can read and add to are revealing all sorts of information, and public kiosks and displays in buildings are allowing literate and illiterate people to access information. Add to this foundation a relentlessly growing network of sensors and digital control technologies such as smart meters, all tied together by cheap, powerful computers and our cities are quickly becoming like computers in open air.

Against this background, this Special Issue addresses the role of smart applications in cities, especially inasmuch they foster enhanced living and working conditions, new modes of participation and a higher level of engagement of citizens. In this issue we also aim to explore the process of innovating smart applications and how it is intertwined with urban development itself.

Smarter Cities

The concept of smart cities has emerged during the last few years to describe how investments in human and social capital and modern ICT infrastructure and e-services fuel sustainable growth and quality of life, enabled by a wise management of natural resources and through participative government [2]. Many of these aspects come from increased knowledge of our urban environment, which can now be sensed to an unprecedented extent. First, there is sensing via existing systems. The idea is that we can use the great wealth of digital fingerprints that are collected by networks of various nature (telecommunication networks such as cell phone and landline, banking networks, social networks etc.) to better understand the city. These datasets, if spatially and temporally cross-associated, become invaluable sources of information about the dynamics of the city. Aside from tapping into existing networks, customized sensor networks can also be implemented to extract large amounts of information about the processes contained within the built environment and channel them to a central control and command mechanism. Furthermore, instead of the previous top-down approaches, we should also consider more grassroots, bottom-up processes for sensing the dynamics of cities based on the participation of citizens, companies and organisations. One possibility is thinking of each citizen as an agent for sensing and reporting his or her individual experience through tapping into data generated by user-contributed content on content-sharing platforms - something that we could call crowd sensing. …

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