It is central to the idea of the smart city that it improves poor urban infrastructure through applying advanced ICT. In this way, smart cities drive sustainable innovation, as new industrial sectors spring up offering services that are synergistic with a city’s own provision of information. For example, one consequence of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has been IT-mediated services becoming more essential than ever to people’s lives. Many leading cities around the globe are investing heavily in innovative advanced technologies, aiming to provide seamless, citizen-centric smart city services that will enhance the competitiveness of cities by driving various smart city policies.

Service Provision in Smart Cities Aims to Improve the Quality of Citizens’ Lives and to Foster New Innovative Industries

   Reflecting this 'new normal', this index report evaluates the ‘service innovation’ of smart cities by recording how many services a smart city offers, its diversity in service areas, and the interoperability between services for 1,489 app- and web-based services and 514 infrastructure services in 31 selected global cities. This process of evaluation categorises service domains into 11 different areas as defined by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea. It then runs fsQCA (Fuzzy-Set Qualitative Analysis) over 10 defined areas representing Transportation, Energy & Environment, Health & Social Service, Crime & Disaster Prevention, Education, Demographics, Logistics, Labour & Employment, Urban development & Facility Management, Culture & Tourism & Leisure, and City Administration. The fsQCA methodology combines approaches oriented to cases and approaches oriented to variables, constructing explanations of social phenomena eliciting logical relationships and bringing together factors at a mesoscopic level (i.e., where phenomena are of a size where variations around a norm become important). The logic of this method is to convert ranked sequences into a so-called ‘fuzzy’ or ‘calibrated’ value (Ragine, 2008)[1].

Transportation, Culture & Tourism & Leisure and Energy & Environment mainly account for the growth of smart city services 

   The report states what services have been provided, in what application areas, and according to what inter-linkages, in 31 global cities over the last three years (2019–2021).

   In this period, 32% of the apps that cities have developed concern transportation. A further 17% are in the Culture & Tourism & Leisure sector, followed by 12% in the Energy & Environment sector. Similarly, 36% of app- and web based services (so a slightly higher proportion) concern transportation. The Culture & Tourism & Leisure sector accounts for 23% of app- and web-based services, and the Health & Social Service sector accounts for 11%. When we are talking about infrastructure services, though, the most common service sector is Energy & Environment, at 36%, followed by Transportation at 22%, and City Administration at 9%.

   Within the Transportation sector, further analysis has shown that the number of infrastructure services declined by 3.4% relative to 2019, while the number of app- and web-based services went up by 2.6%. These figures reflect an increase in various micro-mobility services, such as e-scooters, electric bicycles and electric cars, which citizens can book, use and locate in real time in places including charging stations and smart parking lots. Further, existing transportation infrastructure is being combined with these Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The infrastructure of transportation, for instance, can use traffic-light control, including pedestrian and bicycle signaling, to control or support emergency route management for ambulances and other emergency vehicles. It can also connect micro-mobility through differing means of transport on a multimodal Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform. The growing demand for electric vehicles is the result of many cities implementing smart city policies and integrating traditional public services with transportation methods concerned with the ‘first and last mile’ of service users’ journeys. 

   The Energy & Environment sector, the second highest area of service incidence, has doubled its proportion of services from 2019 to 2022 (from 6% to 12%). This sector accounts for 36% of infrastructure services and only 4% of app- and web-based services. This indicates that cities are on the level of facility and platfom installation prior to providing energy and environment related services to citizens.

   Reflecting the increased global importance of energy efficiency and a worldwide push to develop renewable energy, 20% of the infrastructure services related to smart grids or smart ways of generating or managing renewable energy. Many cities were providing services to build and control smart street lighting as a way to save energy in city centres. Energy is further managed efficiently through smart buildings, IoT sensor-based smart solar bins, and the recycling of food waste, with several cities providing apps that minimizing waste going to landfill. Most cities are establishing platforms for the efficient management of energy, but the facilities are still in test-bed operations in their early stages. A few nevertheless explored user-centred apps aimed directly at citizens. These apps enable the real-time monitoring of electricity, water or gas or daily behaviours. As city-dwellers have become more interested in accessing parks and green spaces within the city during COVID-19, app- and web-based services providing information on these amenities have also sprung up (accounting for, 23% of services in this area).


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