Architecting smart cities: What makes a ‘smart city’ smart?

Tags: Smart City


For example, San Francisco is using them to solve transportation problemsTainan (Taiwan) is using them for water management systems to prevent flooding; and Paris has a vision of intelligent buildings with positive energy output for sustainability.

The Open Group is a partner in the bIoTope EU project which is exploring a range of smart city applications including information services for electric vehicles, helping children to get to and from school more safely, and bottle-bank management. This is just one of a number of experimental projects in the EU and worldwide, and these are just some of the applications that they are investigating.

The devices make these applications possible, but they are just the eyes, ears, and hands, not the brain. They do not provide a higher intelligence.

Data from the Internet of Things


It is the people that provide the higher intelligence: the citizens, politicians and administrators. They decide that traffic management, flood prevention, energy conservation and so on are important, and create the systems that realise their visions. They make the decisions on how those systems will function, using the insights generated from the data.

These decisions are made collaboratively, and this requires a shared understanding of the smart city, of its components, and of how they fit together.

Enterprise architecture for smart cities

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A smart city must have an architecture, to provide a common basis for planning, development, implementation and operation.

Enterprise Architecture is an established discipline, with a professional structure. It enables organisations of all kinds to improve business efficiency through effective use of information technology. Enterprise architects can use this discipline to develop the architectures that smart cities need. They typically do this using an architecture framework such as TOGAF®, which is the de facto global standard for Enterprise Architecture.

The architect looks first, not at the smart devices, but at the “business architecture” which, in the context of a city, means the motivations of the people who live and work there. The business architecture drives the architecture of the information and the applications that process it.

This drives, in turn, the technology architecture: the choice and arrangement of the smart devices, the networks connecting them to the data stores and processing applications, and the platforms on which those stores and applications are built.

It is the people that make a smart city smart, and they do this most effectively using a smart city architecture. Anyone who has been to Paris or Chicago will appreciate the difference that the architecture of the streets and buildings can make to the quality of life of a city’s inhabitants.

The architecture of the technology and information systems can make a difference that is equally important, if less obvious. They can make a city a better place to live and work in. Smart people make smart cities, and smart cities make happier people.