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At bee smart city we are certain that to become a truly smart city or community, municipalities need to advance in six key strategic action fields:

These six key indicators are consistent with those in the widely adopted "Smart Cities Wheel", as developed by renowned urban strategist and smart city expert Boyd Cohen. From a strategic perspective, an approach that covers all six indicators can be regarded as a holistic strategy towards becoming a smart city (for a detailed overview of how we define a smart city and for further strategy insights, please read Smart City Evolution: A Review of Becoming a Smart City).

Of high importance is the facilitation of smart collaboration and innovation between government, private sector businesses, academia and the civil society (foremost the citizens). Engaging and targeting all stakeholders within a municipality - often referred to as "quadruple helix" - is a key driver for success in all six action fields, their underlying subcategories, and solutions.

A smart city is about human-centric approaches to create and implement an ecosystem of smart city solutions that creates added value and transforms into collective good (see also Call for a Human-Centric Smart City Approach). The term "smart" includes technology as an enabler but a smart city strategy is by far not limited to technological solutions. In fact, "being smart" is more about intelligent methodology and proper implementation of beneficial and effective solutions than about technology. To be successful, it is paramount to take the needs of all actors into account, especially those of the citizens. For insights and new thoughts concerning the shift towards user-centric smart city approaches and utilizing collective intelligence, please read our article Towards a New Paradigm of the Smart City.

Within all six aforementioned smart city indicators, subcategories can be formed to tackle specific challenges or to seize opportunities. For advancing in each subcategory, a set of solutions needs to be created, adapted or replicated. For all six strategic action fields, subcategories are laid out in more detail in the following paragraphs.


Smart Economy

“Smart Economy” describes all actions aimed at transforming and strengthening a municipality’s economy.

Improving the overall business climate, a city’s attractiveness for start-ups, investors, businesses, and new (highly qualified) talent as well as growing the economy in an innovative and sustainable way to increase competitiveness are the most important goals.

Utilizing (digital) technology and intelligent approaches lead to economic prosperity that, in turn, generates stable and favorable conditions for all stakeholders.

From a government perspective, "smart economic development" is an important tool to actively seize opportunities and provide conditions that support the creation and growth of businesses as well as new jobs.

Smart Environment

“Smart Environment” describes how a municipal government manages the built and natural environment to improve livability for citizens and visitors.

Utilizing new technology and innovative methodology support the implementation of regulatory and cultural changes that facilitate sustainable standards and practices.

The reduction of waste production, monitoring and managing pollution, emission reduction, water management, achieving energy efficiency, and accelerating the local energy transition are some important goals of "smart environment" initiatives.

New urban planning standards to improve efficiency and to minimize the environmental impact, as well as the creation of a resilient community are further goals.

Smart Government

“Smart Government” is about strengthening the connections and interactions between the government and all stakeholders - citizens, businesses and other organizations of the civil society - within a municipality.

A municipal government following a smart city strategy is uniquely positioned to reconsider the quality, scale, and scope of services for citizens and businesses that it offers.

By utilizing new methodologies, such as co-creation or crowdsourcing, or by implementing new technology and innovation (e.g. for digital citizen or business services or the management of public infrastructure) a "smart government" can be developed.

Following a "city as a service" model can help to increase efficiency and effectiveness as well as transparency and trust.

Smart Living

“Smart Living” aims at increasing quality of life for residents and visitors by following an inclusive strategic approach – across all age groups and demographics. Facilitating livability and optimizing the management of the living environment are two aspects that need to be jointly addressed to maximize benefits for the municipal government and its stakeholders.

Smart Living focuses on improving social and digital inclusion (e.g. the use of electronic services, connectivity, and social platforms), on improving healthcare and care for the elderly (e.g. eHealth, Ambient Assisted Living), safety, housing conditions, and smart buildings.

New methodologies for civic and social engagement as well as new technologies (e.g. IoT based on Wi-Fi or LPWA network technology) are leveraged to improve accessibility and citizen experience across all focus areas.

Smart Mobility

“Smart Mobility” focuses on increasing the efficiency and service quality of urban transportation to enhance the use and adoption of new mobility solutions as well as to increase people mobility through efficient mobility management and targeted infrastructure investments.

Achieving cheaper, faster, and environmentally friendly mobility as well as integrated multimodal transportation is an important challenge for cities and communities.

Supporting the combination of multiple modes of public and private transport, and adopting new forms of transportation (e.g. electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles, autonomous vehicles, bike sharing, carpooling/carsharing) is an important aspect for a future-oriented strategic approach to foster “Smart Mobility”.

A customer-centric and inclusive approach for all citizens, businesses, and visitors is needed to achieve a high-quality mobility service and to ultimately improve the flow of people and goods within a city or community, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact.

Smart People

First, “Smart People” aims at transforming the way citizens interact – via information or the provision of services – with the public and private sector as individuals or businesses. Creating social and digital inclusion/digital equality through educational offers is an important prerequisite for a more efficient provision of information and services based on new technologies.

Second, “Smart People” is about smart forms of education to facilitate career choices, labor market opportunities, vocational training as well as lifelong learning for all age groups and demographics. Talent development is also an important aspect from an economic development perspective as an increasingly important location factor.

“Smart People” solutions support the creation of an accessible and inclusive environment to increase prosperity and innovation within a city or community. Participation, open-mindedness, and creativity are some aspects that are enabled or nurtured by implementing intelligent solutions.

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