Cutting through the clutter of smart city definitions: A reading into the smart city perceptions in India

Sarbeswar Praharaj, Hoon Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Smart city development has emerged as a favoured response to the 21st-century urbanisation challenges. A wide range of definitions surfaced over the last decade characterising the smart city, primarily pushed by the global elite corporations and influential academics. Simultaneously, a series of urban development expressions, such as digital city, knowledge city, eco-city is used interchangeably with the smart city, significantly mystifying the reading of the concept. This paper, first argue that smart city interpretation needs and requires the input and contribution of the local stakeholders. The aim of this research is to provide an evidence-based framework to capture the perception of local urban actors in India vis-à-vis their interpretation of smart cities given the existing urban conditions and the proposed developments under the 100 Smart Cities Mission. This research also examines the underlying linkage between the smart city and its conceptual relatives and highlights the ones with a significant convergence with the emerging urban agenda in India's Smart Cities Mission. The analysis presented in this paper show that to emerge as a holistic concept, smart cities definition models should engage with the sustainability and community issues, beyond the use of digital technology. The research reveals that the Indian urban stakeholders strongly associate the smart city concept with sustainable city and eco-city, much more than the technology-loaded phrases such as ubiquitous city and digital city. The first-of-its-kind inclusive approach developed in this paper to define smart city takes on the monopolies of top-down smart city definitions and support the democratisation of the rapidly proliferating concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100289
JournalCity, Culture and Society
StatePublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • India
  • Smart Cities Mission
  • Smart city
  • Smart community
  • Sustainable city

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Urban Studies
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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