Why smart city ? (a short note)


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Smart cities represent one of the most innovative and promising concepts in urban planning and urban resource management of the 21st century. These cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve the quality of life and services by incorporating innovative solutions on urban services, reducing costs and consumption of natural resources, in order to benefit both citizens and the environment. In this article, we explore the benefits, goals and sustainability of smart cities, highlighting how cities of the future can help us create and manage complex systems for our living, working and interacting with our environment.

Smart cities offer numerous benefits ranging from efficient resource management to improving the quality of life of citizens. One of the main benefits is the optimisation of traffic and public transport management, thanks to the use of intelligent traffic management systems and mobile applications that provide real-time information on traffic conditions, transport timetables, and parking spaces. This not only reduces the time spent in traffic but also contributes to the reduction of CO2 and NO2 emissions. Predictive parking management drastically reduces the number of cars on the road looking for a parking space. In the environmental sphere, intelligent waste management allows costs to be reduced, recycling processes to be increased to the point where they become a return and not a cost. Another key aspect is energy efficiency. Smart cities implement intelligent street lighting solutions, optimised heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and renewable energy infrastructure such as solar panels and wind turbines, significantly reducing energy consumption and environmental impact. Smart cities improve quality of life through the provision of more efficient healthcare services, through the use of telemedicine and digital platforms that enable remote monitoring and medical consultations, reducing waiting times and improving access to care. Across the board, smart cities provide solutions to establish a participatory dialogue with citizens and social partners in order to respond promptly to emerging issues.

Recently, the concept of the Digital Twin has been entering the smart city context. the concept of the Digital Twin represents a digital twin of the individual subsystem (Local Digital Twin) as well as of the entire city or part of it (Global Digital Twin). The Digital Twin should be able to model data of various kinds and keep them connected to each other and to its counterpart in the physical world. For example, a building with its BIM (Building Information Modeling) model with the details of the plans, plumbing subsystems, electrical, services, construction materials, etc.; the control systems with the real-time data (IoT world data) of the same (boilers, air conditioners, electrical systems, sensors, network connection, etc.); events and their state evolution; functional and structural dependencies; relationships with the uses and the use of them by people; microclimatic aspects; etc. Ongoing experiments are demonstrating that Digital Twin models can provide a better contextual view to support decision-making.

Objectives and Sustainability

The objectives of smart cities are manifold and focus mainly on increasing operational efficiency, improving the quality of urban life and promoting environmental sustainability. One of the main objectives is to create a more responsive and adaptive urban environment, able to anticipate and respond efficiently to citizens' needs, thus improving the liveability of cities. Another important objective is to promote social inclusion and accessibility, using technology to eliminate physical and information barriers that limit the participation of certain groups in society. This includes the implementation of communication systems accessible to all and the promotion of inclusive urban spaces. Finally, smart cities aim to become fully environmentally, economically and socially sustainable by integrating green technologies as well as sustainable practices into all aspects of urban life, from waste management to energy production, to ensure a greener and healthier future for future generations.

Sustainability is at the heart of the smart city concept. Through the use of advanced technologies and innovative solutions, smart cities aim to reduce the ecological footprint and promote a more conscious and efficient use of natural resources, see for example the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, of the United Nations, but also the SUMP/SUMI directives in Europe, and international targets for footprint reduction. This includes smart water management, with systems that detect leaks in real time and optimise water use, and waste management, through the use of sensors to monitor container fill levels and optimise collection routes. Smart cities promote sustainable mobility (see Mobility as a Service, MaaS solutions) by incentivising the use of environmentally friendly means of transport such as e-bikes, scooters and electric vehicles and implementing infrastructures for recharging them, as well as sharing and pooling solutions. This contributes not only to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also to improving urban air quality.

Snap4City of the University of Florence

Snap4City is an innovative platform offering comprehensive open source solutions for the development and management of smart cities (https://www.snap4city.org ). Through the use of advanced technologies, such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, artificial intelligence, and Digital Twin, Snap4City provides tools to acquire and manage data, analyse, manage and optimise (in planning) the various aspects of urban life, thus facilitating the achievement of sustainability goals, increased quality of life and services, and cost reduction.

Snap4City plays a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability in cities. The platform allows real-time monitoring of environmental data, such as air quality and noise levels, enabling public authorities to take proactive measures to mitigate pollution, as well as waste and water management. The integration of energy management systems helps optimise the energy consumption of public and private buildings, reducing environmental impact and promoting the use of renewable energy sources. Snap4City significantly improves the quality of urban life through the digitisation of city services. The platform facilitates the creation of customised smart applications that can provide efficient and responsive services for citizens, such as intelligent traffic and parking management, with adaptive public lighting systems, and with adaptive transport and waste collection models. Services are more efficient, easier to use, less costly and able to react to unforeseen events with resilience techniques.

Solutions that accumulate data in separate vertical applications for mobility, environment, energy, waste, etc., are now obsolete. It has been shown for years that cities are complex models where cascading effects from one subsystem to another are the order of the day. Moreover, for the same reasons, predictive and management models that exploit integrated data are much more accurate than their predecessors that only worked vertically. Therefore, solutions such as Snap4City, also adopted by the European Commission, enable the centralised collection of data for decision-support techniques in real-time operational conditions, and for medium- and long-term tactical strategic planning.  These techniques enable the identification of inefficiencies and waste in various sectors, enabling rapid and targeted intervention that results in tangible economic savings. In addition, the platform supports data-driven urban planning, reducing the costs associated with less informed decisions and improving the effectiveness of public policies.


Smart cities represent an innovative and sustainable vision of the urban future, offering concrete solutions to the environmental, economic and social problems of contemporary urban areas. Through the implementation of advanced technologies and sustainable practices, smart cities aim to create more liveable, efficient and inclusive urban environments, demonstrating that it is possible to combine growth and innovation with environmental protection and citizen well-being. The path to truly smart cities is complex and requires collaboration between governments, businesses and citizens, but the potential benefits are immense and can lead to a more sustainable and prosperous urban future for all. Snap4City offers an advanced technology ecosystem, but open to local contributions from companies and operators, enabling cities to become more sustainable and citizen-oriented. Through the use of real-time data, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, Snap4City not only facilitates the efficient management of urban resources but also promotes urban development that focuses on the well-being of citizens and the protection of the environment. Implementing solutions such as Snap4City means taking a significant step towards achieving the goals of sustainability, improved quality of life and cost reduction, which are milestones for cities aiming to become truly smart, ready for operational needs and able to react to new challenges.


Bibliographic references

  1. Garau C., Desogus G., Zamperlin P. (2020). Governing Technology-based Urbanism: Technocratic Governance or Progressive Planning? In The Routledge Companion to Smart Cities, 1st ed., Willis, S.K.; Aurigi, A., Routledge: London; ISBN 9781138036673
  2. Mylonas G., Kalogers A., Kkalogeras G., Anagnostopoulos C., Alexakos C., Muñoz L. (2021)., "Digital Twins From Smart Manufacturing to Smart Cities: A Survey", in: IEEE Access, vol. 9, pp. 143222-143249, 2021, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2021.3120843.
  3. Badii C., Bellini P., Cenni D., Chiordi S., Mitolo N., Nesi P., Paolucci M. (2021). "Computing 15MinCityIndexes on the basis of Open Data and Services", Proc. of the 2021 International Conference on Computational Science and Its Applications, Published on LNCS Springer.
  4. Carayannis, Elias G., Campbell David FJ. (2009). 'Mode 3'and'Quadruple Helix': towards a 21st century fractal innovation ecosystem', in: International journal of technology management 46.3-4 (2009): 201-234.
  5. Ståhlbröst, A., Holst M. (2013). The living lab: methodology handbook, Vinnova, 2013. https://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.101555!/file/LivingLabsMethodologyBook_web.pdf
  6. Nesi, P., et al. (2017). 'An integrated smart city platform', in: Semantic Keyword-based Search on Structured Data Sources. Springer, Cham, 2017.
  7. Bellini P., Bugli F., Nesi P., Pantaleo G., Paolucci M., Zaza I. (2019). "Data Flow Management and Visual Analytic for Big Data Smart City/IOT", in : 19th IEEE Int. Conf. on Scalable Computing and Communication, IEEE SCALCOM 2019, Leicester, UK https://www.slideshare.net/paolonesi/data-flow-management-and-visual-analytic-for-big-data-smart-cityiot
  8. Bellini E., Bellini P., Cenni D., Nesi P., Pantaleo G., Paoli I., Paolucci M. (2021). 'An IoE and Big Multimedia Data approach for Urban Transport System resilience management in Smart Cities', in: Sensors, MDPI, 2021, https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/21/2/435/pdf.
  9. Adreani L., Bellini P., Colombo C., Fanfani M., Nesi P., Pantaleo G., Pisanu R. (2022). "Digital Twin Framework for Smart City Solutions", in: DMSVIVA 2022, The 28th International DMS Conference on Visualization and Visual Languages, KSIR Virtual Conference Center, Pittsburgh, USA, June 29 - 30, 2022, http://ksiresearch.org/seke/dmsviva22.html, Best Paper Award
  10. Adreani L., Colombo C., M. Fanfani, P. Nesi, G. Pantaleo, R. Pisanu (2022) "A Photorealistic 3D City Modeling Framework for Smart City Digital Twin", SCC workshop at IEEE SMARTCOMP, June 2022, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland. https://smartcomp.aalto.fi/
  11. Adreani, L., Bellini, P., Colombo, C., Fanfani, M., Nesi, P., Pantaleo, G., & Pisanu, R. (2023). Implementing integrated digital twin modelling and representation into the Snap4City platform for smart city solutions. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 1-26.
Why smart city ? (a short note) | Snap4City



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