Research Report Smart Cities

Delft - Research Report Smart Cities 2015 - 2050

Smart urban design requires an integrated look at the city as a complex of material flows and living environment, which exposes the connections between sources, functions, infrastructure and users.

This Research Report ‘Smart Cities’ has been published by the University Delft. The researchers consider Smart Cities as a way of working on a future-proof city, cleverly making use of people, resources and systems.

In this Delft Smart City research project, students examined the possible impact of recent developments under the heading ‘Smart City’ for Delft.


There are a lot of clever technical solutions. But what kind of problem do you want to solve? Delft Smart City has analyzed the major challenges for the long term:

  • how to be energy neutral and climate proof
  • how we use the knowledge as a driving force for employment
  • Which smart technological solutions and crossover solutions have we pointed for these different themes
  • Which parties are needed for these solutions? Governments, businesses, knowledge institutions, citizens?
  • From what role they do and what they need from each other?

Research report 2015 – 2050

Delft published a research report about the challenges (big) cities face.

Cities face considerable social, economic and spatial challenges. The world is urbanising rapidly. Existing services and amenities are under pressure, due to their age, or simply as a result of growing demand. The natural systems on which cities are so heavily dependent are overburdened.

Furthermore, their geographical position makes many cities vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. An untenable situation that forces us to shift to an essentially sustainable form of urban development.

Optimistic scenario?

The ‘smart city’ is said to be the answer. But is this not an overly optimistic scenario? Are we again to be seduced into believing in a ‘technological fix’?

Our era is too complex to simply roll out the latest technology.

An efficient city will not, in itself, guarantee capacity for adaptation and self-sufficiency, nor is it a guarantee of social sustainability.

Smart urban design

Promotion the ‘smart urban design’ based on a much better understanding and better planning of the ‘urban metabolism’, requires an integrated look at the city as a complex of material flows and living environment, which exposes the connections between sources, functions, infrastructure and users.

This also requires a broader debate on what kind of city we really want. We have to focus on the big issues currently facing cities – or lying in wait – such as

  • demographic ageing
  • the need for new healthcare arrangements
  • a better match between education and work, and the energy transition

After all, technology is never the solution; it can only be a tool for tackling the issues. If we define the urban metabolism and set it against these various challenges, we will have a framework for strategic decision-making and a narrative.

If the city council can identify how to prepare the city for the future, it can share this knowledge with residents, companies and other stakeholders and invite them to participate in solutions which, step by step, will lead to a ‘green’ economy and an inclusive society.

A learning process

The smart city therefore encompasses, first and foremost, a learning process, a new way of looking at the city, and also a common denominator that can unite parties. The Delft Smart City project was based on this line of thought. It examined the city by means of research by design.

One of the products is a sampler of efforts that will be needed to achieve the energy neutrality, climate-resilience and socioeconomic development we desire. This report is an inspiring example for other cities. Let us aim for cities that are stronger through collaboration.

Link to the report

The approach, conclusions on the themes and an initial analysis which SmartCity means three areas in Delft can be found in the final report Delft Smart City.

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