Smart Cities Mission | Smart Cities Concept | Smart City Features

What are smart cities?

Cities are agents of change. Since their inception, they have been birthing revolutions, developing knowledge and fostering innovation. They are also places of hope: for over 5,000 years, people have been streaming into cities in the hope of finding freedom and a better life. More than half of the world’s population already lives in cities, and this segment is expected to rise to two- thirds by 2050. This rapid urbanisation will put a strain on our limited resources; hence, it necessitates a change in the way we live and interact. It calls for smart city solutions that are in tandem with sustainable urban development and environmental protection. However, these solutions cannot just be a cut-and-paste job: each city is unique and has its own requirements. As there is no single template of what are smart cities nor a one-size-fits-all explanation, What’s Up, Germany? collated the most relevant definitions.

What are smart cities?

Smart City Features

SMARTSmart Governance

More direct involvement: using technology to facilitate greater transparency and faster decision- making between citizens, the government and public administration
Aim: improve democratic processes, provide open data access and efficient public service delivery mechanisms

SMARTSmart Buildings

Energy efficiency: interconnected structures with a network of integrated service platforms that enable monitoring of energy usage, building management and video surveillance in a cost-effective and sustainable manner
Aim: significant energy savings through improved technology

SMARTSmart Energy

Optimal usage: employing technology to forecast energy demand, thereby enabling smart buildings to interact directly with energy providers
Aim: allow smart grids to optimise electricity transmission and use renewable energy sources

SMARTSmart Mobility

Efficient movement: reduction of traffic congestion and adopting faster and greener public and private transportation options
Aim: ensure a functional transportation network and enable commuters to save time by installing intelligent traffic light systems

SMARTSmart Infrastructure

Urban intelligence: a smart system that monitors, communicates, analyses and adapts to changes in the environment
Aim: respond to users’ needs in real time

SMARTSmart Technology

Demand-supply management: improving performance of electric grids, transportation networks, water supply systems and healthcare services
Aim: align constrained supply with erratic demand more systematically to save resources

SMARTSmart Healthcare

Saving lives: interconnected health systems that use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve healthcare and emergency services
Aim: ensure proper assistance in a timely manner

SMARTSmart Citizen

Proactive residents: active participation of citizens in transforming their city into an inclusive, sustainable hub based on their individual needs
Aim: empower and motivate citizens to take part in decision-making


These metropolises share a common characteristic: they are all leaders in smart city development. What’s Up, Germany? highlights their smart city features and unique selling points. Let’s travel the world smartly!

Berlin: eco-friendly mobility, development of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology
Singapore: smart traffic management, innovative water management system
Paris: shared mobility such as bike- and electric vehicle-sharing, digital governance
Toronto: smart commute, low-carbon initiatives, data analytics
Barcelona: smart grids, smart traffic management, low-carbon solutions
London: open data, congestion tax, sustainable innovations
Tokyo: smart mobility solutions, a zero-carbon suburban eco-village

Seoul: integrated public transport system, electronic currency
Hong Kong: smart cards for services, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at the airport
Stockholm: carbon-neutral efforts, smart transportation, ICT infrastructure
Vienna: intelligent technologies, digital governance, Smart Energy Vision 2050
New York: smart street lighting, bike-sharing programme, smart traffic management
Copenhagen: sustainable innovations, bicycle superhighway, carbon-neutrality commitment