Smart City Concept and Services

According to Pike Research on Smart Cities, the Smart City market is estimated at hundreds of billion dollars by 2020, with an annual spending reaching nearly 16 billions. This market springs from the synergic interconnection of key industry and service sectors, such as Smart Governance, Smart Mobility, Smart Utilities, Smart Buildings, and Smart Environment. These sectors have also been considered in the European Smart Cities project (http://www.smart-cities.eu) to define a ranking criterion that can be used to assess the level of “smartness” of European cities. Nonetheless, the Smart City market has not really taken off yet, for a number of political, technical, and financial barriers

Under the political dimension, the primary obstacle is the attribution of decision-making power to the different stakeholders. A possible way to remove this roadblock is to institutionalize the entire decision and execution process, concentrating the strategic planning and management of the smart city aspects into a single, dedicated department in the city

On the technical side, the most relevant issue consists in the noninteroperability of the heterogeneous technologies currently used in city and urban developments. In this respect, the IoT vision can become the building block to realize a unified urban-scale ICT platform, thus unleashing the potential of the Smart City vision .

Finally, concerning the financial dimension, a clear business model is still lacking, although some initiative to fill this gap has been recently undertaken The situation is worsened by the adverse global economic situation, which has determined a general shrinking of investments on public services. This situation prevents the potentially huge Smart City market from becoming reality. A possible way out of this impasse is to first develop those services that conjugate social utility with very clear return on investment, such as smart parking and smart buildings, and will hence act as catalyzers for the other added-value services .