Smart and Circular Cities - Introduction to the Special Theme
by Erwin Schoitsch (AIT) and Georgios Mylonas (ISI, Athena Research and Innovation Center)
Smart city technologies have been proliferating at a rapid pace for some years now, and at the same time, the divide between the natural and digital worlds has lessened considerably. Multiple sensing endpoints located in our environment, offices, homes, devices, and even our body, produce continuous streams of sensor data. At the same time, the concept of the circular economy has entered the mainstream, and we are now seeing many communities and businesses adopt novel approaches based on circularity (e.g., in the European Green Cities Network). European policy (“Green Deal”) has reacted to the challenges of climate change and environmental footprint reduction, particularly in the context of large urban agglomeration. Smartness (intelligence) must address not only the immediate goals of human wellbeing, assisted living and comfort but, perhaps even more importantly, long-term sustainability, as defined by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Source: un.org.