Promoting Sustainability: The Role of Smart Cities

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


The focus on progress has prompted many questions over time, namely the defining of characteristics of the attribution. Arguably, the justification of progress has been a combination of reactive explanation and focused attainment as readily observed in the case of health care and medical technologies. Analogous to the concept of progress and an example of the same is the concept of the smart city. Like progress, smart city does not have a universal or standard definition. However, there is agreement with respect to characteristics of smart cities; the foundational attribution is that they are sustainable. Given population demands and resource constraints, a smart city would employ available means to promote both holistic efficiency and risk management, thereby implicitly incorporating sustainability as the cultural paradigm of its inhabitants (Bishop in Ambio 22:69-73, 1993). From this perspective, though technological progress is the driver of smart city infrastructure, ultimately, it is the cultural attribution of sustainability that promotes efficiency and risk management as a norm of business as usual. Therefore, smart cities provide infrastructure to support both conscious and unconscious sustainable consumption. Coincidently, inhabitants are knowledgeable with respect to their role in promoting sustainable outcomes and police sustainability through the exercise of their consumption choices. The latter is the primary differentiator between present day economic activity and envisioned smart functioning: the conscious understanding on the part of the consumer with respect to their role as the driver of the economic model. Consumers not only have significant power to determine what and how goods and services are supplied, in their role as workers and investors, they have the ability to influence the implementation of operationalized sustainability in business. This chapter will focus on the economic elements that both promote and enable sustainability consistent with the attribution of smart city. The assessment provided differs from other research and evaluation in this area, as it does not view the standard consumer model as the basis for smart city economic development (smart economic development). Instead, the establishment of a smart city is assumed to be consistent with a shift in paradigm from consumerism to sustainability. As a result economic returns and growth are not the focus, quality of life parameters along with intergenerational resource allocation and ecosystem preservation are. Following a discussion of how the deployment of classical economic theory has contributed to the distancing of consumption from sustainability, this chapter will address how deployment of consumer education programs targeted to defining responsible demand, along with the market significance of coalesced demand, are a requisite foundation for smart economic development.

Original Citation

Venkatesan, M. (2018). Promoting Sustainability: The Role of Smart Cities. In U. Azeiteiro, M. Akerman, W. Leal Filho, A.F.F. Setti, & L.L. Brandli (Eds.), Lifelong Learning and Education in Healthy and Sustainable Cities (pp. 489-505). Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69474-0_28