Researchers analyzed the characteristics of worldwide smart city projects to provide models for cities with matching socio-economic circumstances.
To help urban planners identify ways to best support smart city development, researchers analyzed plans from 60 municipal smart-city across the globe and have identified four basic types.
"The term 'smart city' remains more of a buzzword than a clearly articulated program of action," said Krishna Jayakar, professor of telecommunications, Penn State "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."
Jayakar's team's research used cluster analysis to identify four smart city models by looking at programs that have been implemented. The objective was to identify the combinations of projects most often deployed together as a way to define common archetypes or models in smart city development.
The essential services model characterizes cities by their use of mobile networks in emergency management and health-care services. Cities like Tokyo and Copenhagen already have mature communication infrastructures and have invested in a few, well-chosen programs.
The smart transportation model refers to cities that aim to control urban congestion by leveraging technologies, such as IT and communications as well as public transportation, car sharing and/or self-driving cars. Singapore and Dubai are included in this group.
Cities using the broad spectrum model tend to have a high level of civic participation and emphasize management of urban services, such as water, sewage and waste as well as pollution control.
The business ecosystem model is the most common tactic. It uses technology development to jumpstart economic activity by investing in digital skills training and supports high-tech businesses.
"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," Jayakar said.
The research was published online on July 5 in the journal Telecommunications Policy.