Special Issue "Building Smart and Sustainable Cities: Emerging Technologies and Innovation for Digital-Era Governance and Long-Term Impacts"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. J. Ramon Gil-Garcia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Technology in Government and Rockefeller College of Public Affaris and Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York & Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Albany, NY 12203, USA
Interests: collaborative digital government; inter-organizational information integration; smart cities and smart governments; adoption and implementation of emergent technologies; digital divide policies; multimethod research approaches
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Mila Gasco-Hernandez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Technology in Government and Rockefeller College of Public Affaris and Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12203, USA
Interests: digital government; open government; smart cities and communities; public and open innovation; adoption and use of technology; qualitative research methods
Mr. Tzuhao Chen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Rockefeller College of Public Affaris and Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12203, USA
Interests: digital government; comparative public administration; quantitative methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Although cities around the world are already implementing an array of initiatives in an attempt to become smarter, there is still no consensus among researchers and practitioners about what should be included or not in the conceptualization of “smartness” (Gil-Garcia, Zhang and Puron-Cid, 2016). Similar to other topics related to digital governance, some definitions draw attention to the technological elements, while others to the development of human capital, environmental sustainability, or physical infrastructure, among other aspects (Gil-Garcia, Pardo, and Nam, 2015). However, it seems to be clear now that smart cities are not only about harnessing the potential of new data and emergent information technologies, but that many other components are essential to achieve some of the promises in terms of better services and improved quality of life (Gasco-Hernandez and Gil-Garcia, 2017; Gil-Garcia, Helbig and Ojo, 2014). One of these important components of smart cities is sustainability as it is broadly understood (Gasco-Hernandez, 2009; Webster and Leleux, 2019; Encalada at al., 2017; Errichiello and Micera, 2018).

We argue that no matter what definition scholars and practitioners use, what seems to be clear is that smart city success should involve being sustainable in the medium and long term. Sustainability could be understood as the results’ duration and persistence over time. In this respect, sustainability could be seen as the ultimate test of a smart city strategy’s success, since it evaluates if its positive outcomes will last through time, no matter the technical or environmental changes that may take place (Gasco-Hernandez, 2009). The infrastructure and technology must be maintained and updated, but more importantly, the benefits of smart cities should persist over time. Therefore, in order to be sustainable, smart cities need to consider many different aspects of the urban context, particularly in terms of long-term results. However, the literature has explored environmental sustainability almost exclusively, and we believe that for a city to be really sustainable, other dimensions of sustainability need to be further considered.

Indeed, sustainability in this smart city context is not only about the natural environment but also includes economic, political, and social aspects, as well as their results in the long term. First, economic and financial resources can influence the capability of the government to develop and sustain smart cities (Jiang et al., 2019). Second, in order to achieve social sustainability, smart cities should include a focus not only on service delivery but also on sustainable mechanisms of citizen engagement (Webster and Leleux, 2019) and knowledge sharing among collaborators (Rădulescu et al., 2020). Social sustainability in smart cities could lead to more inclusiveness and a richer appropriation of technology, making the city resilient (Aurigi and Odendaal, 2020) and enabling better management outcomes (Errichiello and Micera, 2018). Lastly, political sustainability matters for smart city initiatives to achieve their intended goals and be viable in the long-term. For instance, Van den Bergh and Viaene (2016) reveal that political willingness, commitment, and smart city leadership play a crucial role in the implementation and endurance of smart city initiatives. Thus, it is clear that there are many dimensions to smart cities’ sustainability, but the current literature has not adequately addressed all of them.

Therefore, this Special Issue of Sustainability entitled “Building Smart and Sustainable Cities: Emerging Technologies and Innovation for Digital-Era Governance and Long-Term Impacts” attempts to address a research need in terms of studies focusing on the (ecological, economic, social, and political) sustainability of smart cities. For instance, what needs to be done to achieve smart city long-term sustainability? How can we better assess these dimensions of sustainability in the context of smart cities? How do these dimensions relate to environmental sustainability? Accordingly, the Special Issue invites original, novel, and high-quality papers that advance our current understanding of smart and sustainable cities, including the role of emerging technologies and innovation in long-term urban governance. It takes a comprehensive perspective and attempts to bridge the gap between sound research and practice expertise in the area of smart and sustainable cities, including innovations in policy, management, technology, and data aspects. We welcome manuscripts encompassing conceptual approaches, theoretical frameworks, empirical research, and case studies of cities from all around the globe.

The Special Issue focuses on topics that include but are not limited to:

  • Smart cities and their sustainability in the long term;
  • Importance of (ecological, economic, and social) sustainability for smart cities;
  • Theories and analytical frameworks to study smart and sustainable cities;
  • Fundamental concepts underlying smart city initiatives, including sustainability aspects;
  • Relationships between smartness and sustainability in cities;
  • Emergent technologies and their implications for smart cities, including sustainability;
  • The role of innovative strategies in smart cities, including sustainability aspects;
  • Rigorous empirical studies about smart cities;
  • Case studies of smart city initiatives;
  • Research-based practical recommendations for making cities smarter;
  • Evaluation tools and strategies for smart city initiatives;
  • Public value assessment models for smart city initiatives;
  • Governance models for smart cities;
  • Managerial implications of smart city initiatives;
  • Implementation of smart city initiatives.

References

Aurigi, Alessandro and Nancy Odendaal (2020). From “Smart in the Box” to “Smart in the City”: Rethinking the Socially Sustainable Smart City in Context, Journal of Urban Technology, DOI: 10.1080/10630732.2019.1704203

Encalada L, Boavida-Portugal I, Cardoso Ferreira C, Rocha J. Identifying Tourist Places of Interest Based on Digital Imprints: Towards a Sustainable Smart City. Sustainability. 2017; 9(12):2317.

Errichiello, L., & Micera, R. (2018). Leveraging Smart Open Innovation for Achieving Cultural Sustainability: Learning from a New City Museum Project. Sustainability, 10(6), 1964.

Gasco-Hernandez, M. (2009). Criterios para evaluación de buenas prácticas en el ámbito del uso de las tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones (Criteria to assess good practices related to the use of information and communication technologies). Barcelona: Fundació Pi i Sunyer.

Gasco, Mila and J. Ramon Gil-Garcia. (2017). Is It More than Using Data and Technology in Local Governments? Identifying Opportunities and Challenges for Cities to Become Smarter. UMKC Law Review, 85(4): 915-924.

Gil-Garcia, J. Ramon, Jing Zhang, and Gabriel Puron-Cid. (2016). Conceptualizing Smartness in Government: An Integrative and Multi-Dimensional View. Government Information Quarterly, 33 (3): 524–534.

Gil-Garcia, J. Ramon, Natalie Helbig and Adegboyega Ojo. (2014). Being smart: Emerging Technologies and Innovation in the Public Sector. Government Information Quarterly, 31 (Supplement 1): I1-I8.

Gil-Garcia, J. Ramon, Theresa A. Pardo and Taewoo Nam. (2015). What Makes a City Smart? Identifying Core Components and Proposing an Integrative and Comprehensive Conceptualization. Information Polity, 20 (1): 61–87.

Jiang, H., Geertman, S., & Witte, P. (2019). Smart urban governance: An urgent symbiosis? Information Polity, 24(3), 245–269.

Rădulescu, C. M., Slava, S., Rădulescu, A. T., Toader, R., Toader, D.-C., & Boca, G. D. (2020). A Pattern of Collaborative Networking for Enhancing Sustainability of Smart Cities. Sustainability, 12(3), 1042.

Van den Bergh, J., & Viaene, S. (2016). Unveiling smart city implementation challenges: The case of Ghent. Information Polity, 21(1), 5–19.

Webster, C. W. R and Leleux, C. (2019) Searching for the Real Sustainable Smart City?. Information Polity, 24 (3): 229-244.

Dr. J. Ramon Gil-Garcia
Dr. Mila Gasco-Hernandez
Mr. Tzuhao Chen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • smart city
  • sustainable city
  • smart community
  • emergent technologies
  • innovation
  • urban context
  • urban governance
  • smart city initiative
  • economic sustainability
  • social sustainability
  • political sustainability
  • environmental sustainability

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
From Sustainable Development Goals to Sustainable Cities: A Social Media Analysis for Policy-Making Decision
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8136; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158136 - 21 Jul 2021
Viewed by 894
Abstract
The United Nations (UN) adopted the seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) in early September 2015. One of these goals is SDG 11, which refers to the sustainable cities and communities. In this context, local governments face the challenge of aligning with this objective. [...] Read more.
The United Nations (UN) adopted the seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) in early September 2015. One of these goals is SDG 11, which refers to the sustainable cities and communities. In this context, local governments face the challenge of aligning with this objective. As a result, they are increasing outreach to their organizational boundaries to involve citizens in policy making and strategy development, continually listening to citizens’ voices. One of the methods citizens use to express themselves is social media. This paper will emphasize social media platforms and specially Twitter to explore the public discourse about cities in the context of SDG 11. We applied descriptive quantitative and qualitative analysis to analyze the tweets that include terms and hashtags referring to the SDG 11. The data analysis process is composed of three major procedures: 1-Engagement analysis, 2-Trends based analysis and 3-Data Insights. Our results show that: 1-the COVID’19 pandemic negatively impacted users engagement towards SDG 11, 2-new technologies such AI and IoT are gaining more importance to help cities reach SDG 11, and 3-the SDGs are related and one SDG can impact other SDGs. Full article
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Article
Transition towards Smart City: The Case of Tallinn
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4143; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084143 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 584
Abstract
The main interest of this paper is to analyze the gap between an existing city and its future vision set in the strategy, with a focus on the transition path towards becoming a Smart City. For the analyses, we used the example of [...] Read more.
The main interest of this paper is to analyze the gap between an existing city and its future vision set in the strategy, with a focus on the transition path towards becoming a Smart City. For the analyses, we used the example of Tallinn, a middle-sized European capital city acknowledged in innovation reports as a good example of a Smart City development. This is a qualitative case study with data based on the Tallinn 2035 strategy document and on the interviews conducted with city officials. We mapped the current situation in regard to the four Smart City strategies dichotomies framework in order to understand if and how the future vision of Tallinn differs from the present. The results indicate that the current direction deviates in several ways from the future vision set in the strategy, and that to be able to move towards the vision, strategic changes are needed. With this paper we hope to add some insights to the literature about the knowledge gap between Smart City theory and implementation from the perspective of a present situation versus long-term strategy. Full article
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Article
Digital Divide in Advanced Smart City Innovations
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 4076; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074076 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 904
Abstract
A smart city aims to become a citizen-centered city where citizens actively engage in urban operation and share urban data within a high-tech ICT infrastructure. It premises ‘smart citizens’ who can understand and utilize digital technology to adapt well to the various infrastructure [...] Read more.
A smart city aims to become a citizen-centered city where citizens actively engage in urban operation and share urban data within a high-tech ICT infrastructure. It premises ‘smart citizens’ who can understand and utilize digital technology to adapt well to the various infrastructure of smart cities. In reality, however, not only tech-savvy citizens but those who are not likely to coexist in a smart city. Disadvantaged groups with relatively insufficient awareness and the necessity of technologies might be excluded from smart cities’ various benefits. The smart city innovations need to encompass diverse social groups’ engagements to claim their legitimacy and sustainability from a long-term perspective. In this light, this study examines the potential digital divide in the advanced technologies used in the emerging 5G smart city era. Using survey data, we investigate if the smart citizens’ social and technical readiness in terms of the use experience and necessity of new technologies can predict the adoption and use of the emerging 5G smart city innovations. The empirical results from this study can inform the digital divide between the general public and technology-disadvantaged groups. The findings can also guide policymakers in prioritizing technologies that are accessible and beneficial to all potential residents of smart cities in the future. Finally, the results yield specific policy implications for practitioners who design more inclusive and sustainable smart cities in the 5G era. Full article
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Article
Different Levels of Smart and Sustainable Cities Construction Using e-Participation Tools in European and Central Asian Countries
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3561; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063561 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Cities are developing strategies to deal with the complex challenges of global change and sustainability. These initiatives have involved the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a good driver for achieving sustainability because digital transformation can boost sustainable development strategies, providing [...] Read more.
Cities are developing strategies to deal with the complex challenges of global change and sustainability. These initiatives have involved the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a good driver for achieving sustainability because digital transformation can boost sustainable development strategies, providing opportunities to accelerate transformation. Smart City (SC) models built on empowering people in making public decisions favor access to sustainable development solutions based on knowledge and innovation. Nonetheless, SC experiences around the world denote divergent conceptions of SCs which could lead to different SCs construction. It deserves a more thorough understanding of the nature of collaboration in different settings. Therefore, this paper contributes to the debate on the different uses of ICTs in SCs construction in developing vs. developed countries, by examining the use of ICTs for creating collaborative environments in a sample of SCs in different countries, depending on their economic level, and seeking to identify differences in the objectives pursued by city governments with the use of these technologies. To achieve this aim, e-participation platforms, apps or social media platforms (European and Central Asia SCs) are examined for identifying SCs construction differences between developed vs. developing countries. The findings of this paper put an emphasis on the need for taking into account the differences among SCs in developed vs. developing countries when raking or when performance measurement is designed, because the assessment should be tailored to the cities’ particular visions and priorities for achieving their objectives. Full article
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Article
Optimization of a Novel Urban Growth Simulation Model Integrating an Artificial Fish Swarm Algorithm and Cellular Automata for a Smart City
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2338; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042338 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1325
Abstract
As one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it is sensible to analysis historical urban land use characteristics and project the potentials of urban sustainable development for a smart city. The cellular automaton (CA) model is the widely applied in simulating urban growth, [...] Read more.
As one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it is sensible to analysis historical urban land use characteristics and project the potentials of urban sustainable development for a smart city. The cellular automaton (CA) model is the widely applied in simulating urban growth, but the optimum parameters of variables driving urban growth in the model remains to be continued to improve. We propose a novel model integrating an artificial fish swarm algorithm (AFSA) and CA for optimizing parameters of variables in the urban growth model and make a comparison between AFSA-CA and other five models, which is used to study a 40-year urban land growth of Wuhan. We found that the urban growth types from 1995 to 2015 appeared relatively consistent, mainly including infilling, edge-expansion and distant-leap types in Wuhan, which a certain range of urban land growth on the periphery of the central area. Additionally, although the genetic algorithms (GA)-CA model and the AFSA-CA model among the six models due to the distance variables, the parameter value of the GA-CA model is −15.5409 according to the fact that the population (POP) variable should be positively. As a result, the AFSA-CA model regardless of the initial parameter setting is superior to the GA-CA model and the GA-CA model is superior to all the other models. Finally, it is projected that the potentials of urban growth in Wuhan for 2025 and 2035 under three scenarios (natural urban land growth without any restrictions (NULG), sustainable urban land growth with cropland protection and ecological security (SULG), and economic urban land growth with sustainable development and economic development in the core area (EULG)) focus mainly on existing urban land and some new town centers based on AFSA-CA urban growth simulation model. An increasingly precise simulation can determine the potential increase area and quantity of urban land, providing a basis to judge the layout of urban land use for urban planners. Full article
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