UK researchers try to "measure" city smarts

Fri, 2014-05-09 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Seoul, South Korea

Researchers at the UK's University of Sheffield teamed with GSMA, an organization that represents mobile network operators, to develop a common index for measuring a smart city's smartness. Leveraging a set of 31 indicators developed by GSMA that take economics, infrastructure and social benefits of mobile-connected smart cities into account, the Sheffield researchers are now figuring out how much weight to give to each.

Dr G.C. Alex Peng and his research team believe they have already come up with some important conclusions about how smart the world's cities are becoming – and have profiled 11 to date.

“All of the 11 smart cities involved in the analysis have their own strengths," Peng said in a news release about the global indexing project. "For example Barcelona is doing particularly well in deploying NFC Point-of-sale devices and smart video surveillance; Shanghai is very strong in smart surveillance and city-sponsored mobile apps; Dubai has a well-balanced development in different smart city aspects including city-sponsored mobile-app, mobile broadband, and smart meters deployed in households."

In addition to those mentioned above, the project has profiled San Francisco, New York City, Amsterdam, Berlin, Helsinki, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul. An interactive map on the GSMA website identifies how each did in the preliminary rankings.

He also made these observations:

    • The global rankings and performance of smart cities will change rapidly over the next few years
    • Cities with large populations and large geographic size will require more investment in infrastructure and related ICT facilities to become smart
    • Smartness may be more easily achieved in smaller cities
    • A city with high smartness may not necessarily have high market potential, and vice-versa

There have been a number of attempts to rank the world's smartest cities. Council Advisor Boyd Cohen of the Universidad del Desarrollohas developed a ranking system and uses it to highlight the top 10 smart cities in Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific and North America. And just recently Governing.com dubbed the old port city of Santander on the Spanish coast "the smartest smart city." We’ve told you before about the thousands of sensors embedded in Santander infrastructure.  And the Council's Smart Cities: Best of the Best eBook is a compendium of smart city rankings, scores and predictions available exclusively to Council members. (All that's required to become a member is a free, one-time registration, after which you have access to all of the premium content on the site.)