Smart Cities Habitat Master Planning Framework

Cities the world over are facing difficulties in waste management, scarcity of resources, air pollution, human health concerns, traffic congestion and inadequate, deteriorating and ageing infrastructure. These are among the more basic technical, physical and material problems.

These challenges require an urgent response and smart ways to manage them.

In the past systems in industrial cities were mostly skeleton and skin. Post-industrial cities - smart cities - are like organisms that develop an artificial nervous system based on advanced technology, which enables them to behave in intelligent and coordinated ways.

Although there is an increase in frequency of use of the phrase ‘smart city’ there is still not a clear and consistent understanding of the concept among practitioners and Academia. That being said, the new intelligence of cities resides in the effective combination of information and communications technology (ICT), networks and data, embedded intelligence, sensors and tags and software to support better living, more opportunities and stronger communities.

The building blocks of a smart city typically are thought of as a collection of smart competing technologies applied to critical infrastructure components and services. A key driver of Smart Cities is ICT of which, its integration with development projects can change the urban landscape of a city, offering a number of potential opportunities to enhance the management and functioning of a city.

A Smart Cities Framework

There is a need for a framework that envisions a smart city and design initiatives which advance this vision beyond the application of technology to a vision which supports holistic human growth and potential by implementing shared services and navigating their emerging challenges.

A smart city framework consists of six main components; smart economy, smart people, smart governance, smart mobility, smart environment and smart living.

Using the Smart Cities Mandala as a reference point, a Smart Master Plan can be delivered by achieving:

  • A Smart Environment: Green buildings, green energy, green urban planning
  • Smart Living: Safe, culturally vibrant and happy, healthy
  • Smart Mobility: Mixed modal access, prioritised clean and non-motorised options, integrated ICT
  • Smart People: 21st century education, inclusive society, embrace creativity
  • Smart Economy: Entrepreneurship and innovation, productivity, local and global interconnectivity
  • Smart Governance: ICT and eGovernance, transparency and open date and enabling supply and demand side policy
The Smart Cities Mandala: European Union & Giffinger et al

Smart Habitat Master Planning Application

A holistic Smart Habitat Master Planning process can achieve desirable outcomes including:

  • intensive application of environmental and renewable energy technologies;
  • high standards of design;
  • a clear but adaptable master plan;
  • an area-wide travel plan focussed on the high quality public transport links and other sustainable travel alternatives;
  • community empowerment in both the development and operations of the Smart Habitat Master Plan;
  • a clear economic strategy for the town relating business potential in the settlement to nearby towns and economic clusters;
  • the promotion of healthy and sustainable environments through design and planning to deliver physical and mental health benefits; and
  • imaginative proposals to create additional green infrastructure.

Smart governance is at the core of smart cities initiatives. Smart governance depends on the implementation of a smart governance infrastructure.

Smart Cities projects can have an impact on the quality of life of citizens. Smart cities initiatives allow members of a city to participate in the governance and management of the city and become active users.

Building capacity and opening-up datasets is a key foundation on which deeper understanding and more intelligent analysis of development and mobility in the city can be based. A good understanding of open source ICT tools and open data techniques can be deployed in developing cities very quickly. This is critical to making cities work more effectively for the people that inhabit and use them.

Travel and Zero Carbon

This Smart Cities Habitat Master Plan provides the opportunity to embed the culture of zero-carbon settlements within it, demonstrating the benefit of new and emerging processes and technologies, as well as new lifestyle choices and consumer attitudes.

In addition, it is recognised that travel should support people’s desire for mobility whilst achieving the goal of low carbon living by creating more options for travel so that residents are able to make the majority of their journeys without a car, such as by public transport, walking and cycling. Homes should be within 10 minutes’ walk to frequent public transport stops and everyday neighbourhood services and a minimum of one job per house should be available by walking, cycling or public transport to reduce dependence on the car.


There is a need to create a strategy to implement and deliver a Smart City. There are four key steps to deliver a Smart City. It is important to understand that there are interventions that can be undertaken that may not be technology based however can still be understood to be Smart (see the Smart City Mandala). The four steps are as follows:

  1. Create a Vision: envisage what do we want to achieve for our city
  2. Investigate the Technology: understand what technology we need to understand the city
  3. Apply Pragmatism: ask, can we build or access the technology and data and interventions and apply them for the betterment of the city
  4. Deliver: Apply IT and other interventions to deliver positive change and growth for the city
Key aspects to delivering a smart city

David Klingberg is CEO of South Melbourne-based consultancy David Lock and Associates who specialise in town planning and urban design solutions.

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