Smart cities: Challenges on the path to better living - Part 1
Making use of digital technologies in the fullest form possible is the core of the “smart city” concept. It consists of three layers. The technology base includes a critical mass of smartphones and sensors connected by high-speed communication networks. Specific applications include translating raw data into alerts and insight, and require the right tools that technology and app developers can provide. The third layer is usage of technology by the cities, companies, and the public. 
Applications are considered successful only if they are widely adopted and manage to change behavior. Success in this context is highly dependent of the level of people’s engagement with the application, especially in terms of encouraging them to transit during off-hours, to change routes, to use less energy and water and to do so at different times of day, as well as to reduce strains on the healthcare system through preventive self-care.
Smart cities are a phenomenon that examines how digital innovation can help generate new economic opportunities, improve public service delivery and facilitate citizen engagement in cities. They are considered a meeting point of social and technological dimensions.  A smart city, by definition, is an inclusive place that makes use of innovative solutions to improve social inclusion and combat poverty and deprivation.  Technology has the primary role in this process, since it enables new production, distribution and governance processes; the transformation of organizational and institutional arrangements; and the information of individual choices and behaviors.
In 2017, the European Parliament’s in-house think tank concluded that almost all cities in Nordic countries were smart cities. Most cities with populations over 100,000 in Italy, Austria and the Netherlands are also smart cities, as well as half of the British, Spanish and French cities. In comparison, Germany and Poland are behind, while the eastern EU member states have the lowest number of smart cities.
Some of the "smart" cities placed on the high end of the list were ranked on the basis of how well they use technology to make transport, energy and other aspects of city life run better.
Under these criteria, leaders on this list are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki and Manchester. 
In 2019, Vienna won in a global comparison of smart city strategies against 152 major cities.
Vienna’s ranking is due to its, quote, integrated framework strategy and innovative solutions for mobility, the environment, education, healthcare and public administration. Advanced e-health offerings also played a huge role in the ranking.
According to regional economic data, the process of adopting smart technologies in CESEE (Central, Eastern and Southeastern European) cities is rather a slow one.
Most CESEE cities are still far behind the EU-28 average in productivity and innovation. Challenges typically arise due to the economic and societal gaps that exist between capitals and other cities.
Full implementation of digital technologies will require improvements in technical capacity, a lot of planning and prioritization, as well as improvements in the coordination between municipalities.
According to SDG 11, if less developed countries invested in the strengthening of the national and regional development planning, positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas would flourish.
However, there are several other issues also holding CESEE countries back, such as population aging, outward migration, and low fertility. They result in the lack of availability of young skilled people, who play a key role in the implementation of technological innovations on a national/regional level.