If the 20th century was the century of smart nations, the 21st century will be the century of smart cities. There is a clear trend of population aggregation in medium-sized and big cities, with urban areas growing all over the world and competing for economic investment, a skilled workforce, and cultural prominence. Some cities leading this new trend, such as Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, London, Dubai, or New York, among many others, are already world business and technology hubs whose world significance (and GDP) sometimes surpasses that of many countries.
However, this increasing importance of cities in the world’s economy doesn’t come without a price. Population growth, together with environmental challenges and economic downturns bring many challenges to cities all over the world, and not only for the largest ones. Gassman, Böhm, and Palmié have summarized the most important challenges: new urbanization trends that reshape cities and their surroundings, changes in lifestyles and preferences, demographic developments (like the increasing amount of elderly people in western countries), overloaded infrastructure, air quality, smog, noise, mobility, tourism, limited resources, and management of the commons.
These points confirm the huge challenge: how should cities adapt to these problems? How can we create better cities, which are sustainable and comfortable for all their citizens?