On the Sustainability and Unsustainability of Smart and Smarter Urbanism and Related Big Data Technology, Analytics, and Application

  • Simon Elias BibriEmail author
Part of the Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation book series (ASTI)


There has recently been a conscious push for cities across the globe to be smart and even smarter and thus more sustainable by developing and implementing big data technologies and their applications across various urban domains in the hopes of reaching the required level of sustainability and improving the living standard of citizens. Having gained momentum and traction as a promising response to the needed transition toward sustainability and to the challenges of urbanization, smart and smarter cities as urban planning and development strategies (or urbanism approaches) are increasingly adopting the advanced forms of ICT to improve their performance in line with the goals of sustainable development and the requirements of urban growth. One of such forms that has tremendous potential to enhance urban operations, functions, services, designs, strategies, and policies in this direction is big data computing and its application. It was not until recently that the realization grew about the benefits of exploiting the big data deluge and its extensive sources to better monitor, understand, analyze, and plan smart and smarter cities to improve their contribution to sustainability. However, topical studies on big data applications in the context of smart and smarter cities tend to deal largely with economic growth and the quality of life in terms of service efficiency and betterment, while overlooking and barely exploring the untapped potential of such applications for advancing sustainability. In fact, smart and smarter cities raise several issues and involve significant challenges when it comes to their development and implementation in the context of sustainability. This chapter provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art review and synthesis of the field of smart and smarter cities in regard to sustainability and related big data analytics and its application in terms of the underlying foundations and assumptions, research issues and debates, opportunities and benefits, technological developments, emerging trends, future practices, and challenges and open issues. This study shows that smart and smarter cities are associated with misunderstanding and deficiencies as regards their incorporation of, and contribution to, sustainability, respectively. Nevertheless, as also revealed by this study, tremendous opportunities are available for utilizing big data applications in smart cities of the future or smarter cities to improve their contribution to the goals of sustainable development through optimizing and enhancing urban operations, functions, services, designs, strategies, and policies, as well as finding answers to challenging analytical questions and advancing knowledge forms. However, just as there are immense opportunities ahead to embrace and exploit, there are enormous challenges ahead to address and overcome in order to achieve a successful implementation of big data technology and its novel applications in such cities. These findings will help strategic city stakeholders understand what they can do more to advance sustainability based on big data applications, and also give policymakers an opportunity to identify areas for further improvement while leveraging areas of strength with regard to the future form of sustainable smart urbanism.


Smart cities Smarter cities ICT of pervasive computing Big data analytics Big data applications Intelligence functions Simulation models Sustainability Urban systems and domains 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Department of Urban Planning and DesignNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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