Challenges that Every Smart City Faces

Cities of today have ambitions to become the smart cities of tomorrow. Smart Cities are all about ensuring the efficiency of operations like transportation, law enforcement, energy and healthcare using smart technologies, data analysis, and information and communication technologies (ICT). But to achieve this, considering the scale of such operations, it’s unavoidable that cities will run into challenges which they will need to overcome utilizing innovation, cooperation, and collaboration.

Here are the 6 key challenges facing Smart City solutions today based on the latest studies and research:

  1. Lack of suitable infrastructure for Smart Cities;
  2. Security, transparency, and data privacy;
  3. Coordination between public and private sectors;
  4. Political differences impede smart city initiatives;
  5. Smart city residents’ lack of educating, engaging and tech skills;
  6. Social inclusivity of smart city initiatives;

Now, let’s deep dive and see how all these abovementioned challenges can hinder and affect the implementation of smart city initiatives.

Challenge #1: Lack of suitable infrastructure for Smart Cities

Smart cities need the support of both physical and IT infrastructure as utilize technologies (e.g., sensors) in various sectors such as public transportation, energy, power generation and more to gather and analyze this information to improve the quality of life for residents. Both infrastructures need to be agile and scalable to keep up with the growth of a smart city, its population, and the exponential amount of data. Furthermore, infrastructure should also be flexible in order to be able to cater to a wide range of technologies and software.

Complicated and costly infrastructure is already involved in installing and maintaining these technologies. Besides that major metropolitan areas are already challenged with replacing decades-old infrastructure, and installing high-speed internet.

Challenge #2: Security, transparency, and data privacy

Smart cities rely on gathering and analyzing data from various sources. To address the issue of trust and demonstrate a true commitment to driving transparency and data privacy, government entities will likely consider similar measures to the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, which restricts the way organizations control and process personally identifiable information. Except that and over time, it is important for public officials to demonstrate a true commitment to drive transparency both for government agencies and private companies, as well as a lasting obligation to protect the privacy of citizens without compromising public safety.

Challenge #3: Coordination between public and private sectors

Collaboration and cooperation between key stakeholders in municipalities and the private sector can be another hurdle for smart cities. Data sharing is essential to make certain operations, services, and data checks run smoother. This “need-to-know” data-sharing policy can help cities prevent terrorist attacks, improve drinking water and garbage collection and reduce noise and light pollution. However, achieving a good flow of information between the public and private sectors can be difficult. Thus, it is important for both sectors to prioritize the greater good over their personal interests and find ways for smooth cooperation and support this “need-to-know” data-sharing policy.

Challenge #4: Political differences impede smart city initiatives

Large-scale smart city projects and programs are often challenging to fund. Funding for these initiatives is usually tied to specific political will and cycle and thus, the financial source may expire by the end of the government’s term in office. This continuous cycle of politics could be another barrier to the smart city implementation by delaying certain operations or even causing the complete shutdown of certain projects.

Challenge #5: Smart city residents’ lack of educating, engaging and tech skills

For a Smart City to truly exist and prosper, it needs “Smart Citizens” who are engaged and actively taking advantage of new technologies. Thus, all the latest smart city initiatives, part of the implementation process must involve educating the community on their benefits.

Challenge #6: Social Inclusivity of smart city initiatives

Planning smart city initiatives need to take into account and benefit all sectors of society, not just the affluent and technologically advanced. Technology should work on bringing people together, rather than divide them further based on income or education levels.

Nowadays, it is widely accepted that smart cities have the power to make our lives much simpler and easier. Implementing smart city initiatives must be done in a carefully planned and highly secure manner by considering how these initiatives will affect the people rather than just focusing on what the solution can offer. Thus, when technology, city governance, and communities of people come together to improve the quality of life for everyone involved, that’s when a city truly becomes “smart.


Blog signed by: INTRA team

Feel free to reach out using the MARVEL contact form or to find and talk to us on Twitter and LinkedIn and share your thoughts with us!

Key Facts

  • Project Coordinator: Dr. Sotiris Ioannidis
  • Institution: Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH)
  • E-mail: 
  • Start: 01.01.2021
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Participating Organisations: 17
  • Number of countries: 12

Get Connected



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under grant agreement No 957337. The website reflects only the view of the author(s) and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.