- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 15 Jun 2022
Smart sustainable cities
 Smart and sustainable cities, a brief history
Theories around limited resource management stem back as early as the 1930s (Hotellings rule) with the idea of peak oil emerging two decades later. By the 60s (Silent Spring) and 1970s (UNCHE & Limits to growth) organisations were establishing a specialism in the field of environmental impact that was gaining traction. At the same time, early notions of ‘smart’ were entering the dictum at various points of the spectrum, from the little-known LA Smart City movement to Smart Chips and Smart Bombs.
By the 1980s the WCED and Bruntland defined sustainable development and established the field in an international context, with the emergence of transnational networks towards the end of the decade. Meanwhile terminology such as smart highways, smart cards, smart materials and smart grids were becoming more common. By the 1990s, with acceptance by the UN, sustainable development was a growing industry anticipating the launch of supporting frameworks, including building assessment methods such as BREEAM.
In 1996 the European commission founded the European Digital Cities Programme and, shortly thereafter, the OSI/Network Management Forum was renamed the Tele-Management (TM) Forum remaining one of the largest industry networks. These longer established transnational industry as well as city networks are an important tool for both policy & market innovation (Benington & Harvey).
An inventory of sustainability-related city networks showed a boom in the period between the launch of the UN Agenda 21 (Keiner and Kim) and the passing of the Millennium Declaration . Accepted as way to support local action on a transnational scale, a high number of networks appeared with many disappearing soon after their formation which suggested the market had reached saturation point by mid 2000s (A.Labaeye,T.Sauer).
Meanwhile shifts in the role of digitisation, technology and cross-cutting innovation incorporating the sustainability agenda were supported by the Lisbon agenda as opportunities of a knowledge-based economy. The European Institute of Technology, established in 2008, embraced these by establishing their Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).
The UN published their Smart & Sustainable Cities Reconnaissance study in around 2014, and this remains a very useful reference study of the changing landscape of city programmes with detailed background study to help understand context and characterisation of the smart and sustainable city.
The perspective today is that for many cities a sustainability officer is often complimented by a digital or data management officer, and although potential crossovers between roles are clear, practical compatibility has only more recently started to be optimised. The range of city, academic, commercial and industry networks, frameworks, standards, certifications, projects and initiatives representing sustainable and smart innovation increasingly attempt to support key city stakeholder clients in meeting the challenges of urban living.
In terms of the market and its research counterparts, lines of distinction between characteristics and definitions are increasingly blurred, difficult to judge and analyse because of the sheer number and the broad range of cross-cutting activities. Where industrial networks form city platforms to engage clients and build case studies, research framework users create city network test cases as the basis for certification schemes and academic networks engage in commercial activity. It is, however, important in both academic and market research terms to attempt to understand the landscape as it changes. In particular, the 2018 UN report in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals highlighted the equally interlinked nature of programmes along with the importance of digitisation in consolidating performance from district to city and up to national targets.
- Hotellings Rule: The Economics of Exhaustible Resources; Journal of Political Economy. Harold Hotelling (1931)
- Silent Spring’ Rachel Carson” (1962)
- UNCHE - Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June (1972)
- The Limits to Growth D.Meadows, J.R.William (1972)
- The State of the City: A Cluster Analysis of Los Angeles..
- WCED - Our Common Future The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987)
- The Importance of Being Connected. City Networks & Urban Government Benington & Harvey (1999)
- Transnational City Networks for Sustainability; Keiner and Kim (2007)
- UN Agenda 21- UN Earth Summit Programme of Action (1992)
- United Nations Millennium Declaration. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly (2000) 19 Sustainable Communities in Europe. London: Earthscan. Lafferty, W. M. (ed.) (2001)
- City networks & the socio-ecological transition a European inventory A.Labaeye,T.Sauer (2013)
- UN SSC Smart Sustainable Cities Reconnaissance Study (circa 2014)
- The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 United Nations New York (2018)
- Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT).
- Climate change science.
- Chief digital officer CDO
- Cities as systems - BRE Solutions for urban environments.
- Compact sustainable city.
- Earth overshoot day.
- Economic sustainability.
- Energy Act.
- Engineering Smart Cities.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- Measuring the success of smart cities.
- PAS 180:2014 Smart cities – Vocabulary.
- PAS 181:2014 Smart city Framework. Guide to establishing strategies for smart.
- PAS 182 Smart city data concept model.
- Smart cities - is small to medium beautiful?
- Smart cities design timeframe.
- Smart cities need to find some smarter answers.
- Smart village trials autonomous shuttle and private mobile network.
- Smart construction.
- Smart technology.
- UK Digital Strategy.
- UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.
- UKGBC launches new Solutions Library to enable sustainable buildings.
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