Australia is an urbanized society. Happily, Australian cities are regularly rated as world’s most liveable. Like most developed countries, major challenges to urban landscape are emerging: higher (and aging) populations, environmental and resource stresses, infrastructure capacities, security issues, and so on. These challenges need to be addressed now to prepare our cities for tomorrow: future cities have to be “smart”—digitally smart—if they are to be sustainable. Present urban universe is neatly partitioned into autonomous spheres: (a) real—where people, systems, services, and environments lie and (b) virtual—where information and communication lie. In smart cities, this divide does not exist; the real and the virtual are seamlessly integrated. Technologically, this integration is predicated on the creation of some very new disruptive paradigms on the data–knowledge–action axis of real–virtual symbiosis.
The Internet revolution led to the interconnection between people at an unprecedented scale and pace. The next revolution will be the interconnection between objects to create a smart environment. Currently, there are 9 billion interconnected devices, and it is expected to reach 24 billion devices. According to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, this amounts to $1.3 trillion revenue opportunities for mobile network operators alone spanning vertical segments such as transport, infrastructure, health, and entertainment. The Digital Europe strategy of the European Union points to some of these new paradigms: the Internet of things (IoT), Big Data, and Cloud computing. The first integrates the information highways and the physical world through ubiquitous sensing and actuation, the second is to extract actionable knowledge from constantly generated massive data from diverse sources (human and machine), and the third is to manage the required heterogeneity of computational platforms and goals in pervasive environments.