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Smart City Development Paths: Insights from the First Two Decades of Research

Mora, Luca; Deakin, Mark; Reid, Alasdair



Adriano Bisello

Daniele Vettorato

Pierre Laconte

Simona Costa


More than 20 years have now passed since the concept of smart city first appeared in a scholarly publica-tion, marking the beginning of a new era in urban innovation. Since then, the literature discussing this new concept and the ICT-oriented urban-innovation approach it stands for has been growing steadily, along with the number of initiatives that cities all over the world have launched to pursue their ambition of becoming smart. However, current research still falls short of providing a clear understanding of smart cities and the scientific knowledge policy makers and practitioners both need to deal with their progressive development. In response to this shortfall, this paper offers a bibliometric study of the first two decades of smart-city re-search, whereby citation link-based clustering and text-based analysis are combined to: (1) build and visualize the network of scholarly publications shaping the intellectual structure of the smart city research field; (2) identify the clusters of thematically related publications; and (3) reveal the emerging development paths of smart cities that these clusters support and the strategic principles they embody. This study uncovers five main development paths: the Experimental Path; the Ubiquitous Path; the Corporate Path; the Europe-an Path; and the Holistic Path. Overall, this analysis offers a comprehensive and systematic view of how a smart city can be understood theoretically and as a scientific object of knowledge able to inform policy-making processes.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name Second international conference on Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions 2017.
Start Date Mar 22, 2017
End Date Mar 24, 2017
Acceptance Date Feb 14, 2018
Publication Date May 9, 2018
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 10, 2019
Publisher Springer
Pages 403-420
Series Title Green Energy and Technology
Series ISSN 1865-3529 1865-3537
Book Title Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions: Results of SSPCR 2017
Chapter Number 4
ISBN 9783319757735 9783319757742
Keywords smart cities; urban innovation; bibliometric analysis; co-citation analysis; content analysis; development paths
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Mar 12, 2018


Smart City Development Paths: Insights from the First Two Decades of Research (266 Kb)

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