Research Topic

Data-Driven Smart Sustainable Cities: Urban Computing and Intelligence for Short-term and Joined-up Planning

About this Research Topic

The experience of the past decades has shown that the conventional approaches to urban planning based on interventions promoting renewed access to urban life have been inadequate to cope with the adverse impacts of urbanization and the rapid changes. The increased pressure on cities leads to a stronger need to build sustainable cities that last. In this light, sustainable cities are undergoing unprecedented transformative changes in response to the recent scientific and technological shifts brought on by big data science and analytics. This marked change is further motivated by the quest for achieving the United Nations’ SGD 11, which has increased the need to understand and plan sustainable cities in new and innovative ways.

Sustainable cities epitomize complex systems par excellence—more than the sum of their parts, dynamically changing environments, and self-organizing social networks embedded in space. As such, they are full of contestations, conflicts, and contingencies that are not easily captured, steered, and predicted respectively. In short, they are characterized by wicked problems. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and apply more sophisticated approaches to sustainable urban planning. In response to this, sustainable cities are increasingly embracing and leveraging what advanced ICT has to offer in terms of data-driven technologies so as to understand and tackle the complexities they inherently embody and, thus, to optimize, enhance, and maintain their performance with respect to sustainability—under what has been termed “data-driven smart sustainable cities.” This response has been evinced by the increasing adoption of urban computing and intelligence solutions due to their role and potential in enhancing the development, design, and regulation of land use and the built environment, including energy system, waste system, transportation system, urban metabolism, communication system, and distribution network. The fast-flowing torrent of urban data and their analytical power have become of paramount importance to the planning of sustainable cities thanks to the innovative approaches of short-term and joined-up planning enabled by the recent advances in urban computing and intelligence. This pertains particularly to the powerful new forms of simulation models and optimization methods being fashioned based on the integration of complexity science, sustainability science, urban science, and big data analytics as informed and sustained by data science and data-intensive science. Such models and methods can generate the kind of designs and responses that improve sustainability, efficiency, resilience, equity, and the quality of life.

We encourage scholars and practitioners to submit original research articles, systematic and evidence-based reviews, case studies, project reports, and short communications on topics including, but not limited to, the following:

• Complexity science and big data analytics for understanding urban complexity and sustainability
• Urban intelligence and planning functions for monitoring and designing sustainable cities
• Urban computing approaches to timely decision-making processes for sustainability
• AI-enabled sustainable planning
• Advanced simulation models for handling new conceptions of sustainable cities
• Real-time sustainable cities
• Multi-agent simulation for transport and traffic patterns
• New planning theories based on data-intensive science
• Scientific challenges, opportunities, and barriers for using real-time data analytics
• Horizontal information platforms and operations systems for sustainable cities
• Hybrid systems bridging the physical and digital world
• Urban ubiquitous and intelligent sensor infrastructure
• Big data infrastructure for urban analytics and AI models
• Intelligent energy management for urban computing
• Urban environment monitoring, analytics, and prediction
• Urban visualization methods


Keywords: Sustainable cities, Smart cities, Data-driven technologies, Urban intelligence, Urban computing, Complexity science, Urban complexity, Wicked problems, Sustainable planning, Short-term planning, Joined-planning


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The experience of the past decades has shown that the conventional approaches to urban planning based on interventions promoting renewed access to urban life have been inadequate to cope with the adverse impacts of urbanization and the rapid changes. The increased pressure on cities leads to a stronger need to build sustainable cities that last. In this light, sustainable cities are undergoing unprecedented transformative changes in response to the recent scientific and technological shifts brought on by big data science and analytics. This marked change is further motivated by the quest for achieving the United Nations’ SGD 11, which has increased the need to understand and plan sustainable cities in new and innovative ways.

Sustainable cities epitomize complex systems par excellence—more than the sum of their parts, dynamically changing environments, and self-organizing social networks embedded in space. As such, they are full of contestations, conflicts, and contingencies that are not easily captured, steered, and predicted respectively. In short, they are characterized by wicked problems. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and apply more sophisticated approaches to sustainable urban planning. In response to this, sustainable cities are increasingly embracing and leveraging what advanced ICT has to offer in terms of data-driven technologies so as to understand and tackle the complexities they inherently embody and, thus, to optimize, enhance, and maintain their performance with respect to sustainability—under what has been termed “data-driven smart sustainable cities.” This response has been evinced by the increasing adoption of urban computing and intelligence solutions due to their role and potential in enhancing the development, design, and regulation of land use and the built environment, including energy system, waste system, transportation system, urban metabolism, communication system, and distribution network. The fast-flowing torrent of urban data and their analytical power have become of paramount importance to the planning of sustainable cities thanks to the innovative approaches of short-term and joined-up planning enabled by the recent advances in urban computing and intelligence. This pertains particularly to the powerful new forms of simulation models and optimization methods being fashioned based on the integration of complexity science, sustainability science, urban science, and big data analytics as informed and sustained by data science and data-intensive science. Such models and methods can generate the kind of designs and responses that improve sustainability, efficiency, resilience, equity, and the quality of life.

We encourage scholars and practitioners to submit original research articles, systematic and evidence-based reviews, case studies, project reports, and short communications on topics including, but not limited to, the following:

• Complexity science and big data analytics for understanding urban complexity and sustainability
• Urban intelligence and planning functions for monitoring and designing sustainable cities
• Urban computing approaches to timely decision-making processes for sustainability
• AI-enabled sustainable planning
• Advanced simulation models for handling new conceptions of sustainable cities
• Real-time sustainable cities
• Multi-agent simulation for transport and traffic patterns
• New planning theories based on data-intensive science
• Scientific challenges, opportunities, and barriers for using real-time data analytics
• Horizontal information platforms and operations systems for sustainable cities
• Hybrid systems bridging the physical and digital world
• Urban ubiquitous and intelligent sensor infrastructure
• Big data infrastructure for urban analytics and AI models
• Intelligent energy management for urban computing
• Urban environment monitoring, analytics, and prediction
• Urban visualization methods


Keywords: Sustainable cities, Smart cities, Data-driven technologies, Urban intelligence, Urban computing, Complexity science, Urban complexity, Wicked problems, Sustainable planning, Short-term planning, Joined-planning


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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