Michael Batty, CASA - Center of Advance Spatial Analysis, University College, London 

What Is the Smart City? A Question That Has No Answer

Arguably, the smart cities movement defines a sea change in the way we will live in cities and the way they will function in the 21st century and beyond. Cities are becoming computable and automated at every level of their operation (Batty, 1997) and there is a massive disconnect emerging between their physical form and social process. No one knows where this transition from a world based on energy to one based on information will end up or when the recent wave of change that began with the great recession will work itself out. In this lecture, I will sketch the waves that have dominated technological change during the last 300 years first drawing on ideas suggested by Kondratieff and Schumpeter but then focussing on the present wave – the so-called Fifth Kondratieff which is dominated by the internet. This however is ending and a sixth wave which I call the Age of the Smart City is beginning to encapsulate and underpin everything we do in ways envisaged by the earliest commentators Alan Turing and Vannevar Bush. I will sketch the transition showing are new new technologies are being integrated with one another (Batty et al., 2012). All this fills in the picture of a world built of smart cities but I will argue that there is no one smart city and any single city is no smarter than any other; indeed as cities are built from the bottom up, they are built around rational expectations of the individuals that compose them and information technologies are being used everywhere to support ways in which we behave.  In essence the smart city is the no different from the city that we have always dealt with as cities essentially embrace technologies as they are invented and disseminated. Hence the answer to the questions as to what is the smart city, and what is the smartest city have no answer and a discussion of smart cities should not be phrased around them.

Batty, M. (1997) The Computable City, International Planning Studies, 2, 155-173;

Batty, M. et al. (2012) Smart Cities of the Future, European Physical Journal Special Topics, 214, 481–518.  



Itzhak Benenson, Department of Geography and Human Enviornment, Tel Aviv University (with Andrey Shabalov and Eran Ben Elia)

SMART-PT: Towards a Smart Adaptive Public Transport

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) provide new opportunities to accommodate the increasing demand for transport without large investments in the physical infrastructures. However, public transport (PT) networks remain stable for many years, governed by a cumbersome assumption that residents have fixed and habitual activity and travel patterns. In the long term, this causes increasing reliance on public funds and inhibits service intensification. Stuck in this vicious circle, a fixed PT system cannot accommodate users’ gradually and naturally changing spatiotemporal activity patterns. Instead of being relevant today and in the future, PT services accommodate well the demand of the past. Current developments in ICT allow individual end-users to adapt to the PT operator through timetable and real-time arrival time information. We aim to investigate the necessary next step, which is to ensure that PT operators are able to adapt via ICT to the changes in user’s demand and its spatiotemporal attributes. The present stagnant PT will develop into a SMART-PT: evolutionary system adapting its services to the changing end-user demand under the operators’ (and regulator) supervision. SMART-PT is an innovative concept for reinventing the public transport system by gradual transition of the currently inflexible PT into a self-adaptive and evolving intelligent system that will stimulate the evolution of the entire transport system.  



Assaf Biderman, Senseable City Lab, MIT

Senseable Cities

Today, integrated sensors and computers abound our cities. With this ubiquity of wireless connectivity—most of which has now meshed with the physical environment—we can now collect information about urban conditions in real time. When this data is fed back into city systems, we are presented with new ways to understand, monitor, and impact the urban environment. For example, we can synchronize urban transportation systems, redirect energy use, optimize consumption and waste disposal, and respond more rapidly to emergencies. The networked city invites organizations, companies, governments, and most notably, individuals, to participate and influence it in substantial ways, much like the Internet does in its virtual form as we know it today. In this talk, I will discuss various projects carried out at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, which explores the impact of this new condition. Projects include creating real-time maps that use data from communication networks and banking systems to expose human activity over space, using robots to characterize the human micro-biome of neighborhoods via sewer network sensors, and creating new modes of personal urban transportation using human enhancing technologies.



Efrat Blumenfeld-Lieberthal, Azrieli School of Architecture, Tel Aviv Universtiy (with Elya Milner and Nimrod Serok)

Mapping the Smart Cities Discourse

In this paper we map the smart cities discourse as it is known in the last years. For that, we use NPL (natural language processing) to classify published texts into categories. By doing so, we intend to identify different topics that are related to smart cities and the physical locations that are relevant to them.  To achieve this, we will analyze a wide sample of articles published in scientific magazines, as well as in leading online newspapers. To trace the mutual and the separate topics, we use Open Calais: A Thomson Reuters NLP software that categorizes text by presenting the main topics and their level of relevance to the analyzed text. The analysis contains data regarding the geographical information mentioned in the text (for example, cities and countries) as well as main terms that can be found in Wikipedia. We will discuss our results at three levels: (1) the main discussed issues in the scientific world (taking into account different disciplines) in comparison to the non-scientific discourse, (2) the main discussed locations, and (3) a combination of the topics and the locations (i.e. what topics were discussed in regards to specifics locations, in each discourse). We believe that by doing so we will map the boundaries of the discourse both in terms of ideas and of geography.  



Charles Catlett, The Urban Center for Computation and Data, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory

Smart Cities: The Lesson from the Array of Things Project in Chicago

Urbanization is one of the great challenges and opportunities of this century, inextricably tied to global challenges ranging from climate change to sustainable use of energy and natural resources, and from personal health and safety to accelerating innovation and education. There is a growing science community—spanning nearly every discipline—pursuing research related to these challenges.  The availability of urban data has increased over the past few years, in particular through open data initiatives, creating new opportunities for collaboration between academia and local government in areas ranging from scalable data infrastructure to tools for data analytics, along with challenges such as replicability of solutions between cities, integrating and validating data for scientific investigation, and protecting privacy.  For many urban questions, however, new data sources will be required with greater spatial and/or temporal resolution, driving innovation in the use of sensors in mobile devices as well as embedding intelligent sensing infrastructure in the built environment.  Collectively these data sources also hold promise to begin to integrate computational models associated with individual urban sectors such as transportation, building energy use, or climate. Catlett will discuss the work that Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago are doing in partnership with the City of Chicago and other cities through the Urban Center for Computation and Data, focusing in particular on new opportunities related to embedded systems and experience to date with the Array of Things project in Chicago and partner cities.  



Daniel Deutch, Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University

Towards Big Data Provenance

Highly complex data analysis is employed in smart cities, in scientific experiments, to support medical decisions, for marketing, and in many other contexts. An artifact of this great progress is that decisions and actions, possibly with crucial effects, are often being made through complex computation, whose logic is usually not publicly available. This raises significant concerns of various flavors, such as: is a result based on private data? If so, was the data used only for legitimate purposes? If a result is of high importance, is it based on highly reliable data? Is the underlying computation correct? These and similar concerns are all related to the provenance of data. Provenance intuitively explains a computation result by capturing the way in which different parts of the data are used, combined and manipulated by a query or an application. I will explain our research on provenance solutions for big data analytics and the way it addresses questions such as the above.



Jonathan Dortheimer, Azrieli School of Architecture, Tel Aviv University

The Misunderstanding of Open Source in Architecture

Since the rise of the Open-Source crowed-sourcing technologies in the last decade, many have used the term “Open Source Architecture” to portray a collaborative architecture and planning practices. This term embodies influences from the software industry, along with ideas of post-modern architects from the 1960s and 1970s and communicative theories in urban planning. Despite the popularity of the term in professional and academic literature, in practice, the use of open source architecture remains minor and has little impact on knowledge sharing between professionals and on the modes of collaborative and participatory design. The presented study shows that the adoption of open source practices in architecture is minimal and that the architects and theorists who promote it do so by misinterpreting the actual implications of open source software. The study shows this by comparing the two fields in the following aspects: the practices of intellectual property protection, traditional knowledge sharing, the status of the author and tacit knowledge gaps in the disciplines. The study refers to open source theories, by presenting the concepts of open source software, its influence on prominent theoretical texts in architecture, and by focusing on tacit knowledge in both disciplines. Empirically, the study surveys current projects that claim to carry out the open source model in the field of architecture and compares the intellectual property practices in the traditional architectural discipline to the practice of the open source community and software industry. The study indicates that there are significant differences in perception and function among the professional fields. Also, theorists often see the collaborative characteristics of the open source model, as a method for a collaborative and participatory design that includes non-professionals, underestimating the talent and tacit knowledge that is required, and suggesting to disrupt the authority of the professional.



Sara Encarnação, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (with Francisco C. Santos, Fernando P. Santos, Juval Portugali and Jorge M. Pacheco)

Information as the New Oil: The Smart Cities Dilemma

Right now, the Smart Cities concept is associating itself with the idea that, to bring the perfect and sustainable city environment to people, a smart city must have access to massive amounts of information that will allow intelligent software and hardware systems to provide services to their inhabitants that render life in such a city much more pleasant and, to a large extent, self-sustainable. IT companies are allocating enormous amounts of resources to this concept, reflecting the interest of the private sector in embracing this business opportunity. To this end, however, the massive amounts of data must be gathered both by social media but, importantly, through infrastructures yet to be deployed. This scenario is prone to lead to yet another public goods dilemma, in the sense that, on one hand, citizens must be willing to give away massive amounts of information so that companies and governments provide them with perks that are advertised as essential ingredients towards a true “quality of life” and “quality of place”; on the other hand, however, giving away a significant amount of personal and behavioral information may result in Orwellian-like scenarios, where governments (or Organizations) have an easy task controlling individuals. In fact, some argue that, to the extent that governments have access to citizen’s complete profiles, they no longer need to listen to or satisfy them, in the sense that they can simply control and manipulate them. Consequently, escaping the dilemma associated with the smartification of cities may require a deeper participation of the civil sector in the governance dynamics of cities.

Here we investigate the feasibility of escaping the Smart Cities Dilemma (SCD) employing an evolutionary game theoretic model that explicitly takes into account the interplay between the Public, Private and Civil sectors. Employing this model, we explored the conditions under which the smartification of cities might lead to (1) Orwellian cities or (2) a more democratic city that we found requires a civil sector that is deeply involved in its governance dynamics.



Eyal Feder, Department of Geography and Human Enviornment, Tel Aviv University

Understanding Smart Cities from the People Up

Human life in the 21st century is going through two revolutions that are shaping our contemporary society – the urban revolution and the information one. While each of these revolutions is fascinating on its own, and has spurred significant literature and research, the intersection between the two is only recently starting to be discussed. Much of the discussion has been around the trend of “Smart Cities”, where digital technology is infused into urban life in order to try and create solutions to urban challenges, mainly by collecting data that is used to optimize processes and decision making. But while it has led to some interesting improvements in cities, this trend is in itself facing difficulties – the “Smart City” already raises strong critique, mainly claiming our cities are becoming more and more of a “big brother”, while becoming less democratic, strengthening social gaps, and suffering from a continuing inability to tap into the potential of citizen engagement, participation and data collection. This critique has led to the development of a new, bottom-up approach to Smart Cities, an approach looking at the effect of the wide scale, decentralized access to data and technology. However, this approach is still limited, and is bound by many of the same limitations. It is still based on a controlled process in which a stakeholder uses data collected to spark a change in the city – only this time the stakeholder is the citizens themselves. Therefore, a key question remains open – is there a possibility that the convergence of these two trends creates a truly bottom up, decentralized change in cities?

In my research I would like to go one step further in exploring the connection between wide-scale real-time information access and cities, and discuss the possible impact of information access itself. Can this access actually create an impact on the city? Can we leverage the traces of this access to map and understand human activity in the city? Can services like Facebook, twitter and Yelp replace traditional methods of understanding human life? Building on contemporary digital research and the area of Complexity theory, I will explore these questions through different examples.



Yaron Felus, Chief Scientist, Survey of Israel (Mapi)

On the Road to a Smart Nation

Smart organizations are ones that utilize data and information to optimize their operations. Likewise, smart cities use geographical analysis and maps to operate efficiently. A smart nation is composed of smart cities connecting via smart roads and smart intercity spaces. We will reviews the different activities of a city (street cleaning, infrastructure maintenance, public safety) and demonstrate how geographical information technologies can improve these activities and make them more efficient. However, for small cities and villages, it is often hard to acquire and use these technologies. The Survey of Israel, the national mapping agency, is developing geographical tools and methodologies to support these small communities and optimize their operations. This support includes basic spatial data sets, on-line geographical information software and a team of people that assist the community in their operations. This national project, titled the "Circle" will be described along with a plan for the future. 



Hermann Haken & Juval Portugali, University of Stuttgart, University of Tel Aviv

The Smartification of Cities: An Information Adaptation Perspective

Smart city is a misleading notion: It implies that for the first time in history cities are “smart” and that today’s cities can be dichotomized into smart vs. dumb cities. Both implications are erroneous: cities were always smart – the locus of the smartest human inventions, while today all cities (in fact all human settlements) are in the midst of a process of smartification; not because a certain city mayor has decided to “smartify” his/her city, but due to the introduction of new information-communication technologies (ICT) to all spheres of life including cities. The challenge, therefor, is not to distinguish smart from dumb cities but rather to explore the implications of the smartification of cities. Here we make an attempt at this direction by looking at the smartification of cities from the perspective of Shannon’s (1948) “Mathematical theory of communication” (also known as ‘information theory’) and its relation to semantic and pragmatic forms of information and the recently suggested process of information adaptation (Haken and Portugali 2015).



Talia Kaufmann, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

A Global Ranking of Cities by Accessibility to Services

Cities are in great need for quantitative metrics to assess urban performance and better distribute services between urban neighborhoods. The current era of ‘big data’ has enabled the development of such metrics with open and large datasets mapping amenities in cities across the world. This project utilizes open datasets to measure accessibility to services in cities across the world with the goal of creating a ranking of cities by the level of accessibility they provide to their urban dwellers. Combining a large scale dataset extracted from Google Maps with data about the spatial distribution of population across the world, we measure exact travel durations to amenities by walking, driving and public transportation from population concentrations in cities at the USA, UK, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The unique synthesis of these two datasets allows us to assess what can be considered as accessible from one’s home, estimated with respect to the levels of accessibility measured both in a particular city and across cities. Measuring the spatial distribution of amenities and services in cities around the world sheds light on the inequalities amongst urban neighborhoods, provides data-driven metrics to support location decisions in future planning efforts and a benchmark to compare cities by the level of accessibility they provide to their residents.



Joachim Meyer, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University

Future Cities and the Human Side of Automation

Automation and autonomous systems are becoming ubiquitous parts of practically all aspects of our life. These developments affect the individual by, for instance, changing the nature of work and transportation and making certain activities possible or impossible. They will also affect us through changes in our physical environment. I will review some of the trends in the research on automation and human-systems integration in automated systems. These developments have possible implications for the structure of cities and on people’s life in them. Decisions whether and how to adopt automation will determine the social, as well as the physical structure of the urban environment.



Tova Milo, Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University

Crowd-Powered Data Management

Modern data analysis combines general knowledge stored in databases with individual knowledge obtained from the crowd, capturing people's habits and preferences. To account for such mixed knowledge, along with user interaction and optimization issues, data management platforms must employ a complex process of reasoning, automatic crowd-task generation and result analysis. In this talk, I will introduce the notion of crowd mining, explain how it can be employed for city planning, and describe a generic workflow for crowd mining applications. We will examine and compare the components of existing crowdsourcing systems and point out extensions required by crowd mining. Using examples from recent work, I will present several exciting new directions that are opening up for research.



Ronit Purian, Research Center for Cities and Urbanism, Tel Aviv University

Smart Cities Evaluation: Define Success

The evaluation of the smart city is an intriguing challenge because ICT are powerful tools. Facing large amounts of data sources, a variety of criteria, needs and desires as well as the complexity of procedures involved, any manipulation of these systems and channels changes their values and goals. The proposed evaluation framework posits that the concealed goals of IS design range between maintaining the social status quo and acting towards change. For example, system design can result in a closed system that maintains routines and common features, or it may lead to an open system that changes power relations. Which trajectory is followed and to what extent is contingent on the choice of the human designer. Different IT architectures provide different levels of access to information, flexibility and collaboration. Moreover, the introduction of new technologies often fosters even more rapid transformations of the public-digital-sphere. The smart city is expected to address the requirements of the entire population (rather than segmented customers), involving a mandatory relationship. It must maintain accountability and ensure accessibility even where disabilities, socioeconomic status, age, and other obstacles make it difficult.

Having established trends among early and late e-government evaluation criteria in a previous study, and demonstrating the priorities and concrete choices of municipal managers in a more recent study, observations of the smart city are also expected to reveal the extent and nature of social action with technology: (1) "Technological sophistication" underlies one evaluation axis, the extent to which the system utilizes advanced technologies (e.g., cloud, blockchain) in various solutions and services; (2) Questions pertaining to democracy and form of governance (e.g., PPP models) manifest the "social" axis and depend on the system owners – governors, regulators, industry players – who may hold direct and exclusive control over the data.



Orli Ronen, Porter School of Environmental Studies, Tel Aviv University

Towards a New Urban Agenda - Habitat III - From Public Participation to Civic Engagement

"….it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabric.."

In the path to Habitat III, the city of Tel Aviv Jaffa hosted a Regional Thematic meeting on Smart Cities and Civic Engagement. The concept of the 'smart city' intended as the confluence of urban planning and technological innovation has become a predominant feature of urban policy and action in many countries, depicted at times, as the ultimate solution for urban problems.  The notion of "smart city" appears to encompass a wide range of issues, from advances in sustainability and green technologies, through deployment of information and communication to changes in democracy and civic engagement. More and more cities are exploring the Smartness opportunities; analyzing technological capabilities, social network capacities, IOT infrastructures and crowd mobilization. Vis a vis these trends, there is a growing and urgent need for better understanding of  the potential of 'smart cities' as 'democratic arenas' for citizen empowerment, as governance platforms, and user-driven innovation. What is the potential for "Smart Cities" to regenerate our cities, reach out to their citizens and become platforms for bottom up civic engagement?  Cities need to develop sustainable mechanisms that will enable their citizens to develop capacity and experience in civic responsibility, to broaden democratic platforms and responsible governance. This is a twofold challenge, for the city to become again a democratic arena and for the residents to reinvent themselves as citizens instead of consumers of services. Civic engagement needs to become an everyday practice, embedded into city life at all levels of municipal and community activities.  



Ariel Sella, Capsula Studio, Tel Aviv University and the National Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative

Smart Mobility for Smart Cities

The rapidly vanishing marginal cost of data acquisition, computing and communication is unleashing enormous forces of creative destruction on all aspects of human life, including the locomotion of people, things and materials – on land and water and in the air. Smart Mobility is a rapidly forming value network that will replace century-old transportation and logistics within the next couple of decades, already sending shudders onto incumbent firms and city governments. Smartphones, connected car and fleet services are rapidly creating huge amounts of data that, together with urban sensing, promise to make complex cities as agile and efficient as micro-chips (using similar algorithms).

Three independent trends – electric, autonomous and shared – are expected to come together in sub/urban robocab fleets as soon as 2021. While autonomy is expected to dramatically reduce road accidents and insurance premiums, robocab fleets will do much more. Operating at 60% utilisation, they could eliminate as much as half of consumer-owned vehicles operating at 4% utilisation. Cheap to ride and loaded with a vast array of creature comfort, they could steal riders from traditional mass transit and, in fact, increase congestions. They could reduce city receipts from parking meters and fines, while demanding massive buildup of electric power utilities in the city. They could be managed optimally, by cities, to adjust to changing constraints, obviating current traffic management systems. Automakers are moving fast to meet existential threats to their century-old businesses, and cities need to pick up the pace and engage in redesigning the urban fabric for the Smart Mobility era, with novel relationships and business models to manage this dramatic transition.



Yonatan Shaham & Nir Fulman, Department of Geography and Human Enviornment, Tel Aviv University

In Search of Behavioral Heuristics: From Agent-Based to Game-Based Urban Modeling

Spatially-explicit agent-based models are an important tool to understand, predict, and design policy in urban context. The core of agent-based models is simulating the autonomous behavior of many decision-making agents, constantly interacting with one another within a spatially-explicit context. Such models and simulations allow to unravel bottom-up system dynamics and complexities emerging from the strategic interaction of agents. In such models agents’ behavior is influenced from the heterogeneity of urban space while urban space itself is constantly rearranged by agents’ behavior. Ascribing realistic behavior the agents in the model is therefore essential. Cross-disciplinary research of the last decades had stressed that human agents are not rational decision makers but rather preset bounded-rationality based on heuristics. We discuss the notion of using serious-games in order to extract behavioral heuristics and implementing these back into agent-based models. We present two examples, ranging from flat to hierarchical urban systems: drivers’ parking searching behavior and firefighters’ decision making during multiple-ignition scenarios.



Egbert Stolk, Delft University of Technology 

The Smartification of Urban Design

Prospection is an important feature of urban design cognition: urban designers propose various types of plans for the near and far future. In doing so, they make use of various future-oriented cognitions, like simulation, prediction, intention and planning. This process of prospection evolves out of the interaction of these future-oriented internal representations and various external representations, ranging from sketches and drawings, to digital simulation models. The talk will focus on how new digital tools support this process of prospection. It will highlight the pros and cons of these new tools, and contrast them with traditional design tools. The smartification of urban design is discussed in the light of how these traditional tools and simulation models can be combined to support the process of prospection in urban design.



Shulamit Volkov, Faculty of Humanities, Tel Aviv University

Metropolitan Jews: Smart Minorities in Smart (And Not-So-Smart) Cities

One of the most characteristic features of diaspora Jews since Roman times was (and is) their urbanity. Moving into towns was usually related to opportunities available there, especially for men who could read and write, to enter more profitable occupations and - most importantly – to take better care of their children’s education. I shall follow the changing position of Jews in cities, the occupations that they preferred or into which they were pushed and the effect of city-life on their religiosity, their social stratification and their economic well-being. Their position in modern metropolitan cities, from Istanbul to Berlin and New York, including their role in turning these urban centers into “smart cities”, will then close my presentation.



Sarah Wise, CASA - Center of Advance Spatial Analysis, University College, London 

Delivering the Future - Using Data and Modelling to Facilitate Freight in the City

As world population simultaneously increases in size and shifts to ever more dense patterns of urbanisation, issues of urban transportation grow more acute. The traffic, congestion, and air quality problems which vex citizens show no signs of abating as time goes on. These are not simple systems, but rather interwoven, complex situations which belie obvious remedies: if some individuals change their behaviour, their actions reshape the environment within which their peers make decisions, leading to hugely path-dependent cascades. Further, as people and companies utilise new way-finding tools, provide new services, and purchase and ship materials in unprecedented volumes, it is important to remember that humans are not the only things moving around the city. The movements of goods and services, rather than people, is often ignored in studies of urban movement, an oversight that grows ever more pressing as traffic densifies. The work presented here will explore how researchers can utilise data to facilitate such freight, based on a case study developed in conjunction with industry partners. It highlights how a combination of diverse datasets can be employed to model the dynamics of freight, helping the local government explore the potential impact of policies to guide parking regulations, time-sensitive bans or permits, air quality regulations, the effectiveness of diesel alternatives given the available infrastructure, and so forth. These models can help industry and government partners gain a handle on complex problem, engaging with them more productively to help shape the city of the future.




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