The present study, after a literature review of the smart city definitions and ranking tools in Europe and in China, presents a cross-reading approach to the Chinese smart cities concept and implementation. It is indeed nowadays mandatory to re-convert cities in sustainable and smart ecosystems and this can be done with different approaches. In this frame, the role of ICT—the glue of the smart city concept—is central and pervasive. The Smart city model could be a way to reverse the actual trend of cities, re-defining an integrated approach between tangible and intangible infrastructures of cities. Future cities are influenced by two main different visions with different connotations that come along with the planning capacity and with the ability of countries to follow a coherent and sustainable development project. European approach for planning is quite consolidated and based on a long term holistic vision, while Chinese vision is catching up with the dramatic speed of urbanization, deploying critical infrastructures in most cases without a long-term view. On the other hand, Chinese projects are in some cases exemplary for Europe where many constraints and regulatory issues put a strong limitation on the many possible implementations.
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