Technical Committee on Smart Cities

Welcome to the IEEE Smart Cities Technical Committee of the IEEE Control Systems Society


Chair: Dr Rong Su, Nanyang Technological University. Co-Chair: Prof. Karl Johannson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology 

According to the Rockefeller Foundation for Resilient cities[i], 10% of global population was urban in 1910. Today it is one half, and in 2050 it will be 75%. The world’s cities are its economic powerhouses and cultural centers - the flagships of nations. This is especially true in the developed world. For example, 83% of the US population is urban accounting for 90% of GDP[ii]. The developing world is less urbanized, but the McKinsey Institute estimates that in just 12 years, cities will account for over half of global population and GDP[iii].


In this 21st century, the story of humanity will be in significant measure the story of its cities. As thinkers worldwide have grasped this reality, there has been an emerging canvas of exploratory government programs, strategic products from our global corporations, and research institutes at universities. The pressures driving the canvas are overcrowding, climate change, and natural disasters. The first pressure is simply that as cities grow, they will become denser, and must therefore become more efficient in their provisioning of water, transportation, and energy. We think of this as the “Efficiency” pressure. The second pressure is the need for sustainability created by climate change, and we find programs globally on “Sustainable Cities.[iv]” The third pressure, created by natural disasters, is articulated as the need for “Resilient Cities”. Cities need to become safer and better able to deal with sudden large, one-off, catastrophic events. There are multi-national Resilient City programs coordinated by the World Bank[v] and United Nations[vi]. This TC spans all of these dimensions.


“Smart Cities” is the promise of a solution. Solutions for Efficiency, Sustainability, and Resilience could be based on civil construction, new economic models, cultural rejuvenation, or new technology. This TC focuses on ICT[1], the Smart City wielding new information, communication, and control technologies to enhance efficiency, sustainability, or resilience. It is particularly relevant to note that almost no smart city reference we find mentions the last (control), though almost all assert that a smart city senses the problems of its citizens, and adapts its services in real-time. However, as yet this seems unknown as feedback control. The Brookings Institute estimates the global market for these solutions at USD 1.2 trillion. The UK Department of Business and Innovation estimates it to be USD 400 billion by 2020. In the words of Anthony Townsend in his new book[vii]:


“A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of mega-regions of tens of millions of people.”


[1] Information and Communication Technology

[2] HUD, DOT, and EPA












[xii] u Liu, Zhenghong Peng, "Smart Cities in China," Computer, 16 April 2013. IEEE computer Society Digital Library. IEEE Computer Society,