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Smart Cities

Location Paris, France
Date 26 - 27 September 2011
Calendar file .vcs  .ics

Smart Cities logo The COST Exploratory Workshop gathered together city and regional planners, computer scientists, operations researchers, economists, and decision theorists to study how decision sciences and technologies could be used to respond to the challenges posed by the immense growth of cities.

Smart Cities partner logos

The challenges facing the future of the world’s urban metropolitan areas are immense, and at a first glance many even appear to be insurmountable. The 20th and 21st centuries’ unprecedented migration to urban centres from rural areas has placed continuous and increasing pressure upon infrastructure, residential and commercial properties, and social communities (the very definition of which changes as population densities continue to grow). In particular, satisfaction of even the basic necessities for an urban population is becoming ever more difficult to implement today, not to mention even contemplate over the next quarter-century.

Such necessities—including but not limited to water, electricity, sanitation, roadways and commuter arteries, school systems, and public safety and security—are becoming in themselves even more complex. Although the progression into the “information age” has helped to harness computing resources unthinkable a generation ago, the problems these resources are requested to solve are themselves becoming ever more convoluted. Moreover, as urban sensor technology, digital media and electronic identification become more prevalent, the sheer scope of data that an urban metropolitan area provides for analysis is both difficult to handle and hard to incorporate into the logistical problems the current century’s computing power is being asked to solve.

Fortunately, efforts are currently underway from industry, academia and governments to not only address today’s challenges, but also to help plan for the alleviation of the future problems on the horizon. These efforts are the focus of a COST Exploratory Workshop on Smart Cities , and are characterised by an ability to handle:

  • extremely large amounts of data ( petabytes , or millions of gigabytes, a gigabyte being the standard unit of measure of today’s computer hard drives);
  • heterogeneous information sources, from government electronic ID programmes, to RFID tags and moving sensors, to other ‘smart’ technologies;
  • multiple objectives, which may not be compatible with each other. Examples include the provision of automobile access while minimizing traffic congestion, public safety and security while guaranteeing individual liberties, provision of high-density housing while ensuring a ‘green’ communal environment, etc.

Collectively these efforts are becoming known as Decision Sciences and Technologies (DST). Using DST a city planner could, for example:

  • help optimise vehicle routing in waste collection;
  • support the provision of services information to citizens (e.g. through info-mobility terminals);
  • exploit the prevalence of social networking, polling and focus group data to provide information about the preferences, habits, opinions and behaviours of users of public services;
  • synthesise information for precise decision making based on Geographical Information Systems;
  • overall, help providers of public services understand the increasing diversity of the needs of citizens, diversify their offerings, and do so in the best possible way, thus offering smart services .

The overall objective of the Smart Cities Workshop was to introduce, discuss and better understand DST and its ability to help create smart services, cater to their management, and assist in their assessment. The Smart Cities Workshop explored existing and nascent tools of Operations Research, data mining, social choice theory, recommender systems, classification, distributed computing and information systems. In addition, the presence of urban planners and city managers helped frame the context of DST, to aid city governments in their mission to manage infrastructure provision (e.g. traffic management and emergency services) in a better and smarter way.

The workshop also contributed to the very definition of a “smart city”, by delineating how a city's services can be provided and utilised. Although DST relies upon algorithms for real-time information fusion and integrated data management, dissemination strategies, and project management tools, the level of complexity required for their implementation is far less than the complexity of the problems DST is harnessed to solve. Thus, the Smart Cities Workshop showed how DST can aid ordinary citizens to better utilise public services, with an emphasis on mobility, culture, and participation in policy making, without an understanding (or even knowledge) of the underlying complexity.

By including urban and regional developers and city policy planners, the Smart Cities Workshop especially focused upon:

  • the merging of heterogeneous information sources concerning traffic;
  • the creation of a market of mobility credits for diversified mobility services (mass transit, carpooling, bike sharing, dial-to-ride etc.);
  • facility user profiling;
  • dynamic re-allocation of mobility resources under traffic disruptions.

Participants to the workshop included computer scientists, operations researchers, economists, and decision theorists, from industry (e.g. IBM), academia (e.g. Rutgers University, CNRS), and government. As one of the COST Exploratory Workshops the event also aimed at shaping the research agenda for the coming years in this critically important area.

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In Cooperation with

Steering Committee

Alexis Tsoukiàs - CNRS - LAMSADE, Université Paris Dauphine, FR
Fred Roberts - DIMACS, Rutgers University, US
Laura Wynter - IBM Watson, US
Thierry Goger - COST Office, BE
Zuzana Verčinská - COST Office, BE


Université Paris Dauphine (Room A709)

Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
75775 Paris cedex 16

Please refer to the Downloads section of this page for information about how to reach the venue.

Contact Information

Ms Zuzana Vercinska
Conference Officer
COST Office
Avenue Louise 149
1050 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 533 38 05