Potential pitfalls in the development of smart cities and mitigation measures: An exploratory study

Patrick T.I. Lam, Ruiqu Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid proliferation of smart city (SC) projects is a response to the challenges posed by rapid urbanization such as energy shortage, economic reconstruction (the drive towards higher productivity and efficiency) and demographic increase. Ubiquitous information communication technologies (ICTs) in SCs enable people to understand and manage cities more efficiently and sustainably, thus improving their life quality. However, a number of potential pitfalls have been noted in the development of SC. This study aims at identifying potential pitfalls in the development of SCs and filling a knowledge gap in this domain. Based on an extensive literature review, four major pitfalls are categorized as system information insecurity, personal privacy leakage, information islands, and digital divide. Possible causes and adverse effects of these pitfalls are discussed with the aid of three international case reviews. In addition, this study looks into existing assessment schemes of SC performance that are mainly focused on the positive and functional capability, but sparingly evaluate the possible downsides. It is argued that a SC cannot claim to be successful by solely measuring how much it has done or what it aims to achieve. While most studies focus on the benefits of SCs, this research reveals the challenges facing city planners. It contributes to the body of knowledge in this regard and also provides an insight into the subject matter. A framework for conducting further research on mitigating potential SC pitfalls has been laid. It is intended to inform practitioners, researchers and policymakers to develop proactive solutions concerning both technological and non-technological aspects at an early stage of SC developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-156
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Digital divide
  • Information insecurity
  • Information islands
  • Potential pitfalls
  • Privacy leakage
  • Smart cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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