Image Courtesy :

This article has been written by Ketaki Telkar and edited by Shashwat Kaushik.


The most significant global difficulty of our time is sustainable development, which is an outcome of our intrinsic need to survive. The ability for people to live sustainably in the environment would require ideas from architecture and urban planning. The quality of life for humans and other creatures, such as animals, birds, our flora and fauna, and forests, is negatively impacted by degradation of the environment in a number of ways. Many nations are adopting sustainable development due to issues including the melting of ice caps and glaciers, health risks, and severe water stress.  There is a huge global trend towards the development of smart cities as the global population rises and urban migration increases. A natural way of reducing the issues caused by fast urbanisation is to create smart cities. Once they are in place, smart cities may reduce their consumption of energy, water, and trash. Though the difficulty of creating smart cities comes with costs, safety hazards, and difficulties with communication, smart cities are quite varied and intricate. This article will focus on environmental sustainability as well as the concept of smart cities.

Meaning of sustainable smart city

The concept of smart city is relatively new, though it has been used frequently since 2013, when it exceeded the frequency of citations of other terms, including sustainable city. A smart, sustainable city is one that makes use of information and communication technology (ICT) and other techniques to improve societal well-being while also ensuring the demands of both present and future generations. The major objective of a smart city is to encourage economic development and raise the standard of living of its inhabitants. Smartphones and other sensors are part of the network of things that make up a smart city.

Download Now

The Internet of Things (IoT) is used in conjunction with a range of software, user interfaces, and communication networks in smart cities. Alongside IOT solutions, smart cities use application programme interfaces, artificial intelligence, cloud computing services, dashboards, machine to machine communications, mesh networks, etc.

The ability of a smart city to forge strong ties between the public and private sectors, including with regard to bureaucracy and rules, is essential to its success. This connection is essential since the majority of the work required to establish and sustain a digital, data-driven environment is carried out outside of the government. A smart city is also called an eco-city or sustainable city. Many cities have already begun the process of becoming sustainable and intelligent. They rely on ICTs, for instance, to improve waste management and energy efficiency, to maintain high standards of water and sanitation, to enhance housing and health care, to streamline traffic and increase safety, and to monitor air quality and traffic flow.

According to UNECE and ITU, smart sustainable cities are defined as “A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses ICTs and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects”.

Emergence of smart and sustainable city

There are ongoing efforts to create job opportunities alongside the provision of basic necessities like clean drinking water and sanitary facilities, conducive living conditions, and the minimum necessary infrastructure. These efforts aim to improve the environment and quality of life while also supporting socio-cultural infrastructure that promotes the mobility of people, goods, and services. However, as said in the preceding paragraphs, the situation is not at all satisfactory. When compared to villages, cities are seen as better and more desirable locations to live due to their innovative and modern ways of leading lives, enjoying meaningful living, and working. The adjective “smart” appears to be a reflection of how people perceive these hopes and expectations. Natural resources are believed to be made available through public choice and participatory action. To improve or increase the quality of one’s life. There are three crucial qualities.

  1. Ecological sustainability and energy efficiency
  2. The use of digital information and communication technology
  3. Sustainable growth of various economic sectors Sustainable development that is highly technologically responsive to resource conservation and climate change is what a “smart city” is all about.

Opportunities and challenges with solutions

Smart infrastructures- Nowadays, people work more than in earlier times; therefore, developers and owners are transforming workplaces into tech- heavy workplaces that are focused on technologies for a better experience. For example- installing solar panels on buildings that generate power, automatic windows that regulate heat, and facial recognition technology to access the buildings makes the building more secure and safe. Also, having real time data in the hands of people makes people informed, enabling them to make efficient choices about where to live and work. Sensors are being fixed to notify the public if there is any leak in the buildings, which might reduce the cost and be a boon to the workers.

Smart transportations- People who live in cities need effective transportation systems. To reduce traffic and congestion, several towns are focusing more on technology. Informing drivers about traffic or providing them with a traffic prediction based on real-time updated data or current data based on local information can save them a lot of time, allowing them to base their decisions on accurate information and reducing the number of commuter roads. When no one is on the street, the streetlamps are dimmed to conserve electricity.

Smart utilities- Sensors within the utilities can direct power, and hence they can be used to provide real time data. Cameras connected to the software can detect crime, which can lead to emergency services. Smart sensors can signal when the garbage is full, and that’s how people can know when to collect it.

Projects may face barriers related to procurement, public policy, regulation, and standards, as well as access to physical assets and data. Data and personal information are connected to smart cities. Data used for the detection of crime, emergencies, and personal movements (GPS). Mass data is gathered and stored by IOT devices. As smart cities develop, the legal framework regarding data privacy and security needs to be updated and innovated. Personal data needs to be protected at any cost, as it will be critical to know who owns the data at a given time. Is it necessary for individuals to give consent when their personal data is being used? is one of the tricky questions. Hacking, data theft, and software malfunctions have greater potential to cause inconvenience, personal injury, and damage to property. Despite such concerns, smart cities have great potential with the right planning and a proper legal framework and can also bring up the standard of living for human beings, increase the quality of life of human beings or well- bring of humans, and promote economic growth at sustainable costs.

Additionally, it is necessary to cope with the increasing volume, variety, and velocity of data, as well as the growing number of devices, networks, and applications. Lastly, cities must assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of IoT solutions in order to find sustainable and equitable funding and business models.

The risk is that the potential benefits of the smart city may not be experienced equally by rural and urban communities. Increasing digitalisation can separate these two groups and widen inequalities between them. Digitalisation can be deployed in rural areas as well, but most of the projects are focused on urban cities. Digital systems have the potential to exclude people who do not have access to them or who do not have the skills to operate them, such as smart phones.

IoT solutions offer some prospects for smart cities, despite the challenges involved. For instance, using cutting-edge tools and methodologies, data analytics and AI can be used to optimise processes and decision-making by drawing insights, patterns, and predictions from data. Additionally, while encouraging collaboration among stakeholders, citizen-centric and co-creative techniques can involve and empower citizens in the design, implementation, and assessment of IoT solutions. The performance, dependability, and security of IoT solutions can be improved by distributing data processing and storage across many locations and levels using edge and cloud computing. To ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness of IoT solutions while respecting citizens’ rights, values, and choices, ethical and responsible standards should be embraced.

Need for smart and sustainable cities

A smart city’s main objective is to develop a metropolitan area that offers its citizens a good quality of life while simultaneously fostering general economic growth. Therefore, a key benefit of smart cities is their capacity to provide increased service delivery to citizens while requiring less infrastructure and spending less money. The need to handle the expanding population in urban areas arises from the need for these communities to utilise their infrastructure and resources more effectively. Smart city apps can make these advances possible, progress city operations, and enhance the standard of living for locals.

Benefits of a smart city

  1. Smart city projects can raise productivity, create jobs, increase safety, and improve environmental benefits
  2. Economic benefits can come from job creation and efficiency
  3. Making services more convenient to use by reducing traffic congestion by using technologies
  4. Increasing public safety by street smart lights
  5. It helps to manage waste and usage of resources in an appropriate way
  6. Smart city technologies are used to support progress towards sustainable development goals
  7. Using digital mapping to coordinate roadworks and reduce traffic disruption
  8. Public participation is used to in local decision making by using QR codes and the public can state their opinion on a particular matter on the website, internet, social media platforms, etc.

How are smart cities sustainable

Smart cities promote sustainability through smart and eco- planning of the cities. Eco-friendly projects that respect the environment and increase the standard of living and quality of people’s lives Smart cities use information and communication technology to collect the data of the people, make improvements, give people solutions to their problems, and improve the social, economic, and ecological challenges of the city by reducing the cost. A smart city can claim that it is sustainable when its goal is to improve the quality of lives people lead while simultaneously protecting the environment and using resources in a way that does not impact the present as well as future generations. For example- using recycling garbage to form compost, or nowadays, waste plastics are turned into shoes and bags that can be used for a longer period of time.

Smart sustainable cities

Singapore- Singapore is the smart city leader. Singapore was awarded as a smart city in 2018. Singapore’s smart traffic solutions helped Singapore to be in the top position. In the healthcare industry, Singapore was recognised for its focus on using technology to serve the elderly in a better way. Singapore was ranked number one for its use of digital services as well as technological innovations.

Alanta- Although you will not find Atlanta at the top spot like Singapore, its way of adopting smart solutions has been grabbing quite a bit of attention. Alanta uses the latest technology and adaptive traffic signals, which are pedestrian friendly and promote safety as well. Adjusting traffic light timings to be adjusted so that the cars can move easily at the time of congestion is a newly created travel safety app that can be downloaded on the phones of people easily and gives warnings of danger.

London- Even before becoming a smart city, London was Europe’s centre of tech-driven companies. London is a hub for artificial intelligence. Along with becoming a smart city, it emphasised sustainability and the conviction that “green” development is essential. Buildings are designed with green roofs and access to outdoor green space. London has more green certified buildings than any other European city.

Oslo- Oslo is a smart city focused on developing eco- friendly environment. Oslo has also made a commitment to having only electric vehicles in the city by the year 2025. Oslo is a large city. With 670,000 residents, they have made a significant commitment to smart technology and sustainability, and they are now on schedule to do so. Free parking, the use of bus lanes, lower taxes, and toll rates are just a few of the incentives now in place for zero-emission vehicles. 

New York- It is regarded as one of the world’s smartest cities. As part of its smart city pilot project in 2020, New York City has dispersed hundreds of intelligent sensors around the various neighbourhoods. Huge volumes of data are gathered by the software to aid in more effective garbage management and collection, one of the city’s critical services. By substituting Wi-Fi-enabled charging stations for phone booths, the city is enhancing connections for its residents. For many years, car sharing has been well-liked in the city, and it has continued to expand and change. In addition to assisting in the control of traffic congestion, car sharing reduces emissions within and around the city.

Mumbai as one of the smart cities of India

Mumbai has been actively engaged in the world and has seen continuous development for more than 150 years. Mumbai, India’s financial centre, attracts visitors from all over the world for a variety of reasons, and as the population of the city rises, so does the burden of that growth. Due consideration must be given to problems like air and water pollution. The concept of a smart city for Mumbai fits well with urban planning that makes use of current technological developments. Smart technologies, which are simply electronic devices connected to other devices or networks, are used by smart cities together with other strategies to enhance liveability and support a sustainable environment. A city with internet access has installed cameras and sensors, and it makes the best use of real-time data collection based on supply, demand, and resource utilisation.

A smart city would need to prioritise mobility and robust infrastructure in addition to necessities like internet connection, water, sewage, and electrical delivery. Mumbai is a city that aims to raise living standards and is characterised by institutional, physical, social, and economic infrastructure based on information and communications technology (ICT). This metropolis demands governance through the use of technology for communication (ICT).

A smart city can be an ideal city for solving the challenges that arise in various fields with the use of technological tools for e-government, which develop energy and mobility sustainable projects and empower citizens with ICT. With the implementation of Mumbai as a smart city, transparency, flexibility, and automation of the administration process between the government and citizens are possible, and responses to different issues can be faster on a real time basis. The survey of Mumbai as a smart city was carried out by ICT to analyse the vision and feasibility study of Mumbai as a smart city.


The idea of “smart cities” is essential and vital for the world. Safety, security, sustainability, and energy efficiency are the main goals of smart cities. A growing number of cities are becoming sustainable, smart cities with solutions to urbanisation, traffic congestion, and environmental problems. With effective bus, auto, train, and bicycle rental programmes, several modes of transportation make it easier for residents to commute while minimising their negative environmental effects. Supporters of smart cities welcome the efficiency, optimisation, and convenience they provide. People benefit greatly from smart city technology, including hassle-free shopping and electricity generated by solar panels. The speed with which we can receive information and keep track of resources will determine how effective smart cities will be. Information is what has enabled generations to advance over time. Smart cities can improve several aspects of urbanisation in a variety of ways while taking a sustainable approach. Due to population growth and the majority of people now living in cities, sustainability has taken centre stage for smart cities. A solution for meeting the aims of global sustainability is provided by smart city technology.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here