1: Smart cities definitions

Broad definitions

  • The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) considers smart cities a process rather than a static outcome, in which increased citizen engagement, hard infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies make cities more liveable, resilient and better able to respond to challenges.66
  • The British Standards Institute (BSI) defines the term as “the effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens”.67

Data-driven definitions

  • IBM defines a smart city as “one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today to better understand and control its operations and optimize the use of limited resources”.68
  • Cisco defines smart cities as those who adopt “scalable solutions that take advantage of information and communications technology (ICT) to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance quality of life”.69

Citizen-focused definitions

  • UK citizens tend to consider a smart city as clean, friendly and has good transport connections. Other words they associate with smart cities (although less frequently) include “technology”, “connected”, “internet” and “modern”.70
  • According to the Manchester Digital Development agency, “a ‘smart city’ means ‘smart citizens’ – where citizens have all the information they need to make informed choices about their lifestyle, work and travel options”.71


  • 66 BIS (2013), Smart Cities Background Paper, London: Department for Business Innovation and Skills
  • 67 BSI (2014), Smart cities framework – Guide to establishing strategies for smart cities and communities, PAS 181:2014
  • 68 Cosgrove M & al, (2011), Smart Cities series: introducing the IBM city operations and management solutions. IBM.
  • 69 Falconer G & Mitchell Sh (2012), Smart City Framework A Systematic Process for Enabling Smart+Connected Communities
  • 70 Duckenfield T (2014), What people want from their cities, Connected Cities 2014, London: Steer Davies Gleave
  • 71 MDDA website http://www.manchesterdda.com/smartcity/