There is a deep-seated contrast between the linear thinking of smart city plans and the reality of cities as complex systems comprising unexpected events, decision-making points,behaviour of actors, and sub-economic, sub-social and sub-cultural systems. We suggest an approach to define and design smart city projects takes into account the reality that cities are not static but rather made up of dynamic parts that interact continuously in a complex system. With innovative ways to utilise technology– in particular, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data – we propose capturing and analysing the ebbs and flows of a city as the fundamental goal of smart city projects. The ebbs and flows refer to humans, material things, stories and histories of the city. With the help of technology, these ebbs and flows can be stored, interpreted, analysed and utilised to assist the city’s evolution in an effective manner. This approach, we argue, can help take the smart city movement to a higher ground that is more than a mere adoption of technology for the sake of immediate efficiency.


Our publication on smart cities

Ora-orn PoocharoenPoon Thiengburanathum and Kian Cheng Lee (2020). Chapter 10: The smart city as a complex adaptive system: the ebbs and flows of humans and materials. In Smart Cities in Asia: Governing Development in the Era of Hyper-Connectivity. Edited by Yu-Min Joo and Teck-Boon Tan. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Our practical work on smart cities

Smart Faham