A Novel Model for Driven Smart Sustainable Cities of the Future: The Institutional Transformations Required for Balancing and Advancing the Three Goals of Sustainability
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEnergy Informatics. 2021, 1-37. 10.1186/s42162-021-00138-8
In recent years, it has become increasingly feasible to achieve important improvements of sustainability by integrating sustainable urbanism with smart urbanism thanks to the proven role and synergic potential of data-driven technologies. Indeed, the processes and practices of both of these approaches to urban planning and development are becoming highly responsive to a form of data-driven urbanism, giving rise to a new phenomenon known as “data-driven smart sustainable urbanism.” Underlying this emerging approach is the idea of combining and integrating the strengths of sustainable cities and smart cities and harnessing the synergies of their strategies and solutions in ways that enable sustainable cities to optimize, enhance, and maintain their performance on the basis of the innovative data-driven technologies offered by smart cities. These strengths and synergies can be clearly demonstrated by combining the advantages of sustainable urbanism and smart urbanism. To enable such combination, major institutional transformations are required in terms of enhanced and new practices and competences. Based on case study research, this paper identifies, distills, and enumerates the key benefits, potentials, and opportunities of sustainable cities and smart cities with respect to the three dimensions of sustainability, as well as the key institutional transformations needed to support the balancing of these dimensions and to enable the introduction of data-driven technology and the adoption of applied data-driven solutions in city operational management and development planning. This paper is an integral part of a futures study that aims to analyze, investigate, and develop a novel model for data-driven smart sustainable cities of the future. I argue that the emerging data-driven technologies for sustainability as innovative niches are reconfiguring the socio-technical landscape of institutions, as well as providing insights to policymakers into pathways for strengthening existing institutionalized practices and competences and developing and establishing new ones. This is necessary for balancing and advancing the goals of sustainability and thus achieving a desirable future.