Mapping Smart Cities in the EU

Berlin by night


The number of high-density city populations is growing across the world, putting a strain on energy, transportation, water, buildings and public spaces. We require solutions that are ‘smart’, i.e., both highly efficient and sustainable on the one hand, as well as generating economic prosperity and social wellbeing on the other. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are a key enabler for cities to tackle these challenges, leading to the development of ‘Smart Cities’ where public issues are addressed via ICT-based solutions involving multi-stakeholder, municipally based partnerships.


The European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy asked RAND Europe and partners WiK, TNO and the Danish Technological Institute to provide information and analysis on current Smart Cities initiatives across the EU28. To address this topic our study aims to provide:

  • A working definition of a Smart City
  • A map of the uneven distribution of Smart Cities with a population of 100,000+, across all Member States
  • An analysis of the success factors of Smart Cities vis-à-vis their objectives, highlighting the importance of clear aims, targets and baseline measurement
  • An assessment of the contribution of Smart Cities to the targets of Europe 2020, with examples of good practice
  • Recommendations for key stakeholders on the design, governance, scaling and transferability of Smart City initiatives.

Findings and Recommendations

  • Of cities with a population of over 100,000, 51% (240) have two or more Smart City initiatives in place.
  • The countries with the highest absolute number of Smart Cities are the UK, Spain and Italy. The countries with the highest proportions of cities that are Smart Cities are Italy, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Estonia and Slovenia.
  • More than two-thirds of sampled Smart City projects remain in the planning or pilot test phases.
  • The objectives of Smart City initiatives are generally aligned with those of city innovation and development strategies and the overarching Europe 2020 targets.

The recommendations emerging from our analysis can be grouped into five categories:

  1. The need for research and evaluation to understand Smart Cities
  2. Procedures conducive to designing Smart Cities
  3. Governance required to manage and maintain a Smart City
  4. Policies to support the development of Smart Cities
  5. Support for replication, scaling and ecosystem seeding