There is no doubt: smart cities have become the present future for urban development.

According to the Data Booklet by the UN The World’s Cities in 2016 “in 2016, an estimated 54.5 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 per cent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.”

Taking these estimates into account, world leaders have made their mission to make cities people-friendly – we could even say ‘livable’.

There are a number of topics or issues surrounding smart cities. Since urban growth affects – literally – half of the world, smart city projects are being developed all around the globe.

Today we touch the 2 main trends that are currently hot in the smart city conversation: technology and big data.

During this post, we will try to understand how big data and technological devices can help us have better cities (smarter cities).

Data & Technology

Big data has reached every aspect of our daily lives. Well, smart cities are not any different.

The creation of intelligent platforms to promote open data and service management, using internet of things for innovative services or using real-time open data to improve urban services are key aspects to combine data and technology.

Urban Analytics

Most of big data and technology combined strategies emerge from measuring urban indicators – therefore setting measurable targets.

According to The Gov Lab, urban analytics enable us to gather real-time information about traffic, pollution, noise and safety. Among other indicators, we might add.

The metrics obtained, should cover social inclusion (e.g., knowing a city’s volunteering network), safety (e.g., getting data on crime rates or 911 calls) and sustainability (e.g., measuring transport air pollution).

Technology for gathering urban analytics data

The use of technology to gather data has made possible urban analytics and is key to the future – smart – cities.

GPS and smart cards

Cities use bus and taxi GPS devices to gather transport information about time, routes, etc.

Also, smart public transport cards offer information on the usage and frequencies.


In the era of security, CCTV systems offer information not only on traffic (jams) – but also help law enforcement officers with crime investigations.


Security… and environment. The other defining question of today’s world is how to achieve greener and more sustainable cities.

Sensors installed in smart cities measure air quality, waterworks, river stage, rainfall and other related factors.

These are just a few examples on how technology can help measure key indicators for smart cities.

Other sources of information are national data systems (health, education), call centers (like 911) and city hall information and law enforcement systems (where citizens are performing daily errands from registering for marriage to filing civil complaints)

More on smart cities and technology?

All these topics and much more will be discussed during the 2017 Smart Cities World Congress. If you can swing by Barcelona during 2017 fall, the conference is a capital meeting point for all smart citiers around the globe.

Too far away? Smart Cities Council website includes events from all around the world, including USA. Check them out!