Smart Cities

The implementation of concepts of big data and the internet of things at urban scale has become a priority issue, with the rapid integration of technology into our lives. Considering that we have restricted resources, sustainable growth is included among the main agenda items not only for establishments and buildings, but also for cities.

It is necessary to evaluate environmental factors, and factors such as the growth of population as well as resource utilization collectively in order to achieve sustainable growth. Accordingly, building smart cities has been one of the headings that emerge to the forefront as an approach that will contribute to sustainable development.

Smarts cities are evaluated as settlements where urban data are evaluated through one system, resources are used effectively and individuals living in the city are able to benefit from the services and receive good services. In short, the smart cities concept is an approach that handles technology and sustainability collectively. In this context, it is important to benefit from the information and communication technologies at the maximum level.

The urbanization ratio, which was 34% in the world in general in 1960, currently is 54% and this ratio is predicted to be 66% in 2050. Meanwhile, the urbanization ratio in Turkey is above the world average. This ratio is currently 74% and is expected to reach 84% in 2050. Population increase and rural-to-urban migration underlie many problems with respect to urbanization. The problems caused by population increase manifest themselves as the drop in urban living quality and negative impacts on economic and social lives. Smart cities are intended to prevent these and similar problems even before they emerge and use the available systems efficiently.

When we look at the elements influencing urban living, public transportation, energy utilization, urban infrastructure and grids, security and healthcare are elements that come to the minds at the first stage. Smart cities are intended for the self-management of all urban systems that increase the quality of life in the cities and maximize living quality.

Smart meters and energy management in buildings with respect to energy efficiency; water leakage monitoring and preventive maintenances with respect to energy consumption; public transportation and park guidance systems with respect to transportation, the ability to arrange traffic signs on real-time basis, monitoring the air quality from the perspective of urban services, and the provision of emergency intervention and disaster services are evaluated as recommendations for solutions aimed to increase living standards in smart cities.

It is important to plan well and establish objectives prior to implementing these and similar solutions in cities, and to support research and development studies in this respect. Public-private sector collaboration, as well as public investments and central-local administration support, is also very significant with respect to smart city investments.


The United States of America, European countries such as Spain and Germany, and Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore may be listed among the primary countries that place emphasis on smart city investments. Topics such as energy utilization, traffic problem, healthcare, and education emerge to the forefront in the pilot applications.

The first steps towards smart city applications have also been taken in our country with development plans and strategy documents. The 2015-2018 Information Society Strategy and Action Plan, Energy Efficiency Strategy Document and the 10th Development plan may be listed as examples.

It is observed that new smart city applications are also being taken into service every day in our country. For example, applications such as smart parking space signs, staged pedestrian crossing arrangements that reduce the time vehicles wait at the red light, and allow pedestrians to cross the road safely, are smart city applications generated for private vehicles and pedestrians.

The tramway system without catenary implemented in Konya, the electrical buses taken into operation in İzmir, and smart stops that are used in many cities and show the distances of buses to the bus stops may be listed as examples aimed for public transportation.

In the meantime, another application aimed for the smart city infrastructure is the establishment of an infrastructure that will allow the data center of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality to provide sustainable services under all circumstances, such as all types of cyber-attacks, natural disasters, calamities and similar extraordinary circumstances.

In addition, the establishment of charge stations operating on solar energy, smart bicycle applications and the ability of public establishments to provide certain services in the electronic environment may be listed as other examples in Turkey.

We can actually see that we have a lot of ground to cover in smart city applications and the significance of vision, when we look at the practices abroad.

For example, a system has been developed in Sweden that interferes in the radios and warns the drivers of the remote vehicles that are on the routes of emergency vehicles such as ambulances. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, energy is supplied to street lamps benefiting from the kinetic energy generated by the steps of pedestrians through kinetic energy pads under walking roads. In addition, these lamps also have USB ports and can be used as wireless internet access points. The fact that smart city applications are hot agenda items in the world in general poses as an advantage with respect to the improvement of these applications and such applications inspire each other.

World Cities Expo 2017 was held in Istanbul last May with the participation of establishments, organizations and countries that pioneer in the field of smart cities, and the 6th International Istanbul Smart Grids and Cities Congress and Exhibition will be organized in April next year. Similar congresses and exhibitions contribute in the adoption of smart cities in our country and help us to meet international standards rapidly.

In conclusion, it is intended to increase the efficiency of urban systems, improve the offered services, achieve improvements in subjects such as air-noise pollution and increase living standards in smart cities.

In the meantime, the inadequacy of finance and technically qualified labor emerges to the forefront as the major obstacle in front of smart city applications.

It is observed that vitally important arrangements aimed for energy and water consumption are yet inadequate, while the ability to access services in the electronic environment and applications concerning public transportation stand out in the process up to now. The high integration of technology into our lives and the rapid adoption of such conveniences should be evaluated as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

We should not overlook the vital role of smart/green buildings while to achieve this transformation. It has become possible to control the systems owned by smart buildings, which were automatic and independent of each other initially, remotely and make centralized decisions now. Today, the building systems are being integrated with each other. Thus, the buildings are able to learn and shape their behaviors accordingly.

The ability to seize this opportunity during a period when urban transformation and renewal works are on the agenda so much will offer a future advantage to every individual forming the society. In the coming period, the inter-communication of objects, smart buildings, applications ensuring energy efficiency and smart cities encompassing all these will constitute the main items on the agenda.

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