Smart Cities: Best practices from around the globe


A smart city is a city which uses data and technology to more efficiently manage assets and resources. This can be a city’s water supply, electrical grid, waste management system or all of the above. Economists estimate that smart cities could save 22 trillion dollars by 2050.

With such a wide-ranging definition and with another city going smart every day, it’s easy to get a bit lost in the whole idea of a smart city since all of them are doing different things. Every city has its own unique challenges and being smart is just about finding innovative ways to solve them. Some smart cities are built from the ground up while others are trying to do their best with what they’ve got.

Songdo, South Korea

If we’re going to talk about smart cities, we’ve got to talk about the world’s first: Songdo, South Korea. Built on reclaimed land from the Yellow Sea, it is the largest private real estate development in the history of the world projected to cost $40 billion. With plenty of LEED certified office spaces, elevators which go to the ground floor the second you enter the building, and trash being taken and sorted using pneumatic tubes from your apartment, it’s designed to be the business and residential city of the future. Sensors all over the city continually monitor and optimize road traffic, electricity, and the flow of water.

San Francisco, USA

It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the most expensive places to live in the world has also been on the forefront of implementing smart technology in the city’s infrastructure. Approximately 40% of the city’s electricity comes from renewable energy and the city has recently expanded its demand-responsive pricing policy for parking. Prices for parking spaces dynamically increase or decrease based on demand. The results of the pilot phase concluded that average parking rates were lower, parking availability increased, and greenhouse gas emissions decreased because people no longer had to circle endlessly to find parking.

Trikala, Greece

Referred to as Greece’s first smart city, Trikala has only 82,000 residents but all its services are connected. In the city’s control room, a worker can see the status of traffic lights, water pipes, available parking, and even the locations of each and every garbage truck. The city’s e-complaint system allows citizens to submit a request for services either online or through an app. Problems are now solved in eight days on average. This might still sound like a long time until you think about how it took a month to solve any issue before the city went smart. If that weren’t enough, there’s also self-driving buses, more efficient streetlights, and even a Raspberry Pi kit for every public school in the city.


All of Estonia. Not just the capital Tallinn but the whole country where 99% of public services are available online all day every day. The only things you have to leave your house for are to get married, get divorced, or buy real estate. Everything else can be managed online. You can found a company in approximately 18 minutes. Estonians can even vote online and they’ve been doing it since 2005. Online voting has been estimated to save 11,000 working days per election.

These are just a few of many smart cities and smart countries around the world. For fellow Impact Hub Vienna members, don’t forget that the city of Vienna is also a smart city with various projects tackling challenges in sectors such as energy, health, transportation, buildings, and the environment.

Baldwin Tong Impact Hub Vienna
Baldwin Tong A writer who wears many hats, mostly metaphorical ones.

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