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Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021) | Viewed by 26043

Special Issue Editor

Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa, 1649-004 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: geosimulation; geocomputation; artificial neural networks; graphs theory; cellular automata; multi-agent systems; urban morphology; remote sensing; epidemiology; health geography; geomarketing; tourism; smart cities; big data
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Supporters of the smart cities paradigm stress its potential for stimulating ecological integrity and social equity towards the greater aim of urban sustainability. From a technical point of view, the Smart City model considers the city as a complex system made up of citizens, resources, and services. Smart cities should be self-adaptive systems.

One way for characterizing complex adaptive systems is by the presence of components that learn through interaction. This is a useful metaphor for the potential of smart city systems. In smart cities, one need is for planners to channel technological capabilities productively, while chaos provides a dynamic and flexible space for business and social innovation to breathe. The sterile and the organic (co)exist in paradoxical equilibrium.

A (smart) city may be planned as a complex dynamic system that changes in both time and space, tracing paths that are difficult to predict over a short period (i.e., chaotic). Together with auto-organization, these features of complexity and dynamic development have been key issues for city planning. This requires the development of new concepts and models of city planning that comprise the systemic perception.

The system approach enables us to address the city as a dynamic complex system, and complexity is the key issue to guarantee the evolution of the system. When the components of the urban subsystems and their relationships are in equilibrium and/or stable, the cities are in a sustainable dynamic state. The smart cities paradigm has all of the potential for stimulating prosperity, competitiveness, efficiency, and sustainability in several socio-economic levels.

The complexity within smart cities represents a challenge for sustainability and resiliency. In this Special Issue, we look for contributions that address any of the topics mentioned above (but not exclusively), whether they are of a more theoretical and critical character, or are of an applied and practical nature.

Dr. Jorge Rocha
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • smart cities
  • sustainability
  • complex systems
  • intelligent cities
  • information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • Internet of things (IoT)
  • Big data
  • social networks
  • volunteered geographic information (VGI)
  • artificial intelligence and resilience

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 1834 KiB  
Article
The Concept of a Smart City Communication in the Form of an Urban Mobile Application
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9703; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179703 - 30 Aug 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2652
Abstract
The current state of technological progress offers extensive opportunities for the development of urban infrastructure and the construction of Smart Cities, but the city will only become intelligent if it raises the living standards of all citizens in it. The Smart City uses [...] Read more.
The current state of technological progress offers extensive opportunities for the development of urban infrastructure and the construction of Smart Cities, but the city will only become intelligent if it raises the living standards of all citizens in it. The Smart City uses information and communication technologies to improve its functionality and long-term sustainability and to increase the living standards of its citizens. In this context, it is necessary to address the issue of mutual communication between the city and the citizen and its implementation. The aim of the paper is to design a suitable smart solution that would streamline two-way communication between the city and its citizens. This solution is an urban mobile application, which is also a simple and yet sufficiently effective solution for the transformation of cities into Smart Cities. The main benefit is the implementation of research assessing the requirements of the citizens of a particular city for the services and functions that the application should offer. After analysing the results, a specific urban application design was processed using User Interface and User Interface design. The proposal consists of seven consecutive phases. All phases were completed in solving the design and the result can be seen in the resulting interactive prototype, which was finally tested by authors and random users representing all age categories. The results of the prototype usability tests enabled a gradual improvement of the solution, which culminated in the confirmation of its effectiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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32 pages, 25015 KiB  
Article
Solar Irradiance Reduction Using Optimized Green Infrastructure in Arid Hot Regions: A Case Study in El-Nozha District, Cairo, Egypt
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9617; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179617 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2998
Abstract
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, studies focused on the relationship between urban planning practice and climatology are still lacking, despite the fact that the latter has nearly three decades of literature in the region and the former has much [...] Read more.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, studies focused on the relationship between urban planning practice and climatology are still lacking, despite the fact that the latter has nearly three decades of literature in the region and the former has much more. However, such an unfounded relationship that would consider urban sustainability measures is a serious challenge, especially considering the effects of climate change. The Greater Cairo Region (GCR) has recently witnessed numerous serious urban vehicular network re-development, leaving the city less green and in need of strategically re-thinking the plan regarding, and the role of, green infrastructure. Therefore, this study focuses on approaches to the optimization of the urban green infrastructure, in order to reduce solar irradiance in the city and, thus, its effects on the urban climatology. This is carried out by studying one of the East Cairo neighborhoods, named El-Nozha district, as a representative case of the most impacted neighborhoods. In an attempt to quantify these effects, using parametric simulation, the Air Temperature (Ta), Mean Radiant Temperature (Tmrt), Relative Humidity (RH), and Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) parameters were calculated before and after introducing urban trees, acting as green infrastructure types that mitigate climate change and the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Our results indicate that an optimized percentage, spacing, location, and arrangement of urban tree canopies can reduce the irradiance flux at the ground surface, having positive implications in terms of mitigating the urban heat island effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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24 pages, 4908 KiB  
Article
Coastal Land-Use and Land-Cover Change Trajectories: Are They Sustainable?
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8840; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168840 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2004
Abstract
In this study, past and current land-use and land-cover (LULC) change trajectories between 1947 and 2018 were analysed in terms of sustainability using a unique set of nine detailed, high-precision LULC thematic maps for the municipality of Portimão (Algarve region), Portugal. Several Geographic [...] Read more.
In this study, past and current land-use and land-cover (LULC) change trajectories between 1947 and 2018 were analysed in terms of sustainability using a unique set of nine detailed, high-precision LULC thematic maps for the municipality of Portimão (Algarve region), Portugal. Several Geographic Information System (GIS)-based spatial analysis techniques were used to process LULC data and assess the spatiotemporal dynamics of LULC change processes. The dynamics of LULC change were explored by analysing LULC change trajectories. In addition, spatial pattern metrics were introduced to further investigate and quantify the spatial patterns of such LULC change trajectories. The findings show that Portimão has been experiencing complex LULC changes. Nearly 52% of the study area has undergone an LULC change at least once during the 71-year period. The analysis of spatial pattern metrics on LULC change trajectories confirmed the emergence of more complex, dispersed, and fragmented shapes when patches of land were converted from non-built categories into artificial surface categories from 1947 to 2018. The combined analysis of long-term LULC sequences by means of LULC change trajectories and spatial pattern metrics provided useful, actionable, and robust empirical information that can support sustainable spatial planning and smart growth, which is much needed since the results of this study have shown that the pattern of LULC change trajectories in Portimão municipality has been heading towards unsustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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43 pages, 12891 KiB  
Article
Urban Data Dynamics: A Systematic Benchmarking Framework to Integrate Crowdsourcing and Smart Cities’ Standardization
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8553; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158553 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3224
Abstract
Urbanization and knowledge economy have highly marked the new millennium. Urbanization brings new challenges which can be addressed by the knowledge economy, which opens up scientific and technical innovation opportunities. The enhancement of cities’ intelligence has heavily impacted city transformation and sustainable decision-making [...] Read more.
Urbanization and knowledge economy have highly marked the new millennium. Urbanization brings new challenges which can be addressed by the knowledge economy, which opens up scientific and technical innovation opportunities. The enhancement of cities’ intelligence has heavily impacted city transformation and sustainable decision-making based on urban data knowledge extraction. This work is motivated by the strong demand for robust standardization efforts to steer and measure city performance and dynamics, given the growing tendency of conventional cities’ transformation into smart and resilient ones. This paper revises the earlier so-called “cityDNA” framework, which was designed to detect the interrelations between the six smart city dimensions, such that a city’s profile and capacities are recognized in a systematic manner. The updated framework implements the widely accepted smart city (ISO 37120:2018) standard, along with an adaptive Web service, which processes urban data and visualizes the city’s profile to facilitate decision-making. The proposed framework offers a solid benchmarking service, at which the value of crowdsourced data is exploited for the production of urban knowledge and city transformation empowerment. The proposed benchmarking approach is tested and validated through relevant case studies and a proof-of-concept scenario, in which open data and crowdsourced data are exploited. The outcomes revealed that cities should intensify their KPI-driven data production and exploitation along with a set of solid standards for cities to enable cities with customizable scenarios enriched with indicators that reflect each city’s vibrancy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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25 pages, 43777 KiB  
Article
Correlating the Sky View Factor with the Pedestrian Thermal Environment in a Hot Arid University Campus Plaza
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020468 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2790
Abstract
In hot, arid regions on university campuses, students are more vulnerable to heat stresses than in street canyons in terms of function; however, the knowledge of the impact of built environments on thermal performance is still lacking. In two summer and winter days, [...] Read more.
In hot, arid regions on university campuses, students are more vulnerable to heat stresses than in street canyons in terms of function; however, the knowledge of the impact of built environments on thermal performance is still lacking. In two summer and winter days, the shading effect of the existing urban trees pattern in a university campus in Egypt was examined to correlate their Sky View Factor (SVF) with the thermal environment, meteorology, Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET), and Universal Thermal Comfort Index (UTCI). The ENVI-met model was used in order to assess meteorological parameters, followed by SVF calculation in the Rayman program. Meteorological field measurements validated the simulation model and measured the Leaf Area Index (LAI) of two native urban trees to model the in-situ canopies foliage. In summer, the results showed a significant direct impact of the SVF on mean radiant temperature (Tmrt), PET, and UTCI; however, the excessive shading by trees on materials with a low albedo and low wind speed could lead to a slight increase in air temperature. Meanwhile, in the winter, SVF did not affect the microclimatic variables, PET, or UTCI. The resulting insight into the correlation between SVF and Tmrt emphasizes the importance of urban trees in modifying the microclimates of already-existing university plazas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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23 pages, 3616 KiB  
Article
A Pattern of Collaborative Networking for Enhancing Sustainability of Smart Cities
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1042; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031042 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3327
Abstract
This paper represents a research response to the current vision on transformations regarding the capacity building of smart cities focused towards sustainability, by addressing the knowledge based urban development and collaborative tools that support the development, dissemination, and use of knowledge. The purpose [...] Read more.
This paper represents a research response to the current vision on transformations regarding the capacity building of smart cities focused towards sustainability, by addressing the knowledge based urban development and collaborative tools that support the development, dissemination, and use of knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to develop a collaborative pattern of knowledge networking, focusing on sustainability goals within a smart city concept, using the logic of the Complex Adaptive System (CAS). The study was carried out in an innovation cluster in Romania; the Social Network Analysis (SNA) was used as a tool to perform the study. The results of this analysis, due to the suggested networking, have led to delimitation of the roles that Groups of Competences play to enhance the sustainability of smart cities in areas where the use of knowledge has the greatest impact. Results show that the success of the smart solutions’ implementation depends on how the social and competence structures of the network are shaped and whether it permanently adapts to fit the sustainability objectives in the considered areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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30 pages, 10275 KiB  
Article
AI-Based Physical and Virtual Platform with 5-Layered Architecture for Sustainable Smart Energy City Development
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4479; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164479 - 19 Aug 2019
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 7197
Abstract
To build sustainable smart energy cities (SECs) around the world, many countries are now combining customized services and businesses within their energy infrastructure and urban environments. Such changes could then promote the development of platforms that ultimately provide benefits for citizens such as [...] Read more.
To build sustainable smart energy cities (SECs) around the world, many countries are now combining customized services and businesses within their energy infrastructure and urban environments. Such changes could then promote the development of platforms that ultimately provide benefits for citizens such as convenience, safety, and cost savings. Currently, the development of technologies for SECs focuses on independent products and unit technology. However, this is problematic, as it may not be possible to develop sustainable cities if there is a lack of connectivity between various elements within the SEC. To solve such problems, this paper presents an AI-based physical and virtual platform using a 5-layer architecture to develop a sustainable smart energy city (SSEC). The architecture employs both a top-down and bottom-up approach and the links between each energy element in the SSEC can readily be analyzed. The economic analysis based on return on investment (ROI) is carried out by comparing the economic benefits before and after the application of this system. Deploying the proposed platform will enable the speedy development and application of new services for SSECs and will provide SSECs with measures to ensure sustainable development, such as rapid urban development, and cost reductions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Smart and Sustainable Cities as Complex Systems)
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