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To what extent is your city smart? - Smart Cities Maturity Models

One of the first steps in formulating a Smart City strategy is to know the city's level of maturity in order to determine the next steps to be taken. In this context, Maturity Models for Smart Cities are a fundamental tool. In the following article, Hossam El Shoukry, Alumni of the Master's in Global Smart City Management, sets out the key features of the three main maturity models existing in the Smart Cities domain: The IDC Smart City Maturity Model, The Maturity Model to Measure and Compare Inequality in Brazilian Cities (Br-SCMM) and the Smart City Maturity Model developed by Sustainability Outlook (SO SCMM).
You are a city official or governor. You are requested to develop a strategy to transform your  city/governorate into a smart city, to address the storm of economic, environmental, or demographic  challenges that cities are facing nowadays. You are bombarded by several calls from tech companies to  try to convince you to buy their smart cities solutions. However, since you are new to the topic, you are  quite suspicious that you will take the right decisions in terms of priorities and what exactly are the  areas you need to start addressing in this transformation journey. Citizens' high expectations and the  need for sustained tourism and business development are bringing pressure to bear on you as a leader  to consider the opportunities afforded by emerging technologies. Yet navigating transformative change,  as is required by Smart Cities, is a long-term and complex process.  In order to start navigating efficiently in the transformation journey of cities, provincial officials need to  be able to assess the current situation of their cities and determine the critical capabilities needed to enable a Smart City Concept. Different tools are utilized to facilitate this process of the strategic planning of smart cities. An example  of which is the Maturity Model (MM) that is generally used for process improvement. Maturity models support the evolution from an initial state, towards an anticipated or desired state, following an outlined  path, often based on the best practices from the concerned domain.

Smart Cities Maturity Models

The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) developed the first maturity model that was applied to the  software industry, i.e., the Capability and Maturity Model (CMM). The CMM assists in capability  assessment, where individual process areas (PA) can be improved towards an objective, without having  to address the different areas considered in a maturity level. Moreover, it can be considered a collection  of best practices in the software engineering industry. The CMM was developed as a framework to support  the process of improvement of an organization from the standpoint of their quality and effectiveness.  From then onwards, several maturity models have been developed in different domains, including the smart city domain. Maturity models for smart cities have been defined to help city leaders assess the city’s current state and provide guidance towards its evolution Using previous research done by Torrinha & Machado in 2017, the only models related to smart cities  considered were maturity models which approached a city in a holistic way.   Therefore, among the different existing maturity models in the domain of smart cities, only three models  were selected: 
  • The IDC Smart City Maturity Model.
  • The Maturity Model to Measure and Compare Inequality in Brazilian Cities (Br-SCMM). 
  • Smart City Maturity Model developed by Sustainability Outlook (SO SCMM).  
It is worth mentioning that when you further research the topic, you will also find references for the  European Union maturity model, which was used in 2014 for mapping smart cities across the EU to help  boost their initiatives. Moreover, PAS 181 from the British standards institute establishes a good practice  framework to develop and deliver smart city strategies. However, it does not have a specific assessment  model. 

Key Features 

The above-mentioned maturity models share the same goals of enabling assessment of as – is states of  smart cities, identification of gaps, and comparison between cities. The criteria of assessment may be different between each model. For example: IDC maturity model could be better used in assessing the  level of governance established to promote the transformation into a smart city concept, which in a way  measures the coordination and integration across departments and agencies or for the city system as a  whole in addition to assessing a single department.   The (Br-SCMM) has relied on identifying 10 domains called “domains basic” where each domain has its  respective Basic Indicator. “The main objective of these domains and basic indicators is to understand  the functional areas where there are structural weaknesses that need further attention to the city to be  comparable to a smart city. The model was created to measure and compare the cities of Brazil, yet it  could be used in other countries with similar cases.
Domains  Basic Indicator
Water  Piped Water
Education  HDI-Education
Energy  Access to Energy
Governance  HDI/Employment
Housing  Private Residence
Environment  Garbage Collected
Health  HDI – Health
Security  Homicides/1000
Technology  Computers/Home
Transport  Mass transport

Table (1) Domains & Basic Indicators for (Br-SCMM)

The “SO SCMM” was developed to establish the metrics to be applied to a future Smart City for gauging  preparedness against key resource related areas proposed by the union government of India (Transport,  spatial planning, water supply, sewerage & sanitation… etc). The model measures preparedness of each  area through four different phases; access, efficiency, behavior, and systems focus which is the highest  level of maturity.


So bottom line, as a starting point for formulation of your smart city strategy, you will need to have  conducted an assessment of where you are now and what are you aspiring to achieve in terms of the  different domains of smart city concept. The Smart Cities maturity models are useful tools to help city  leaders to develop their strategic plans based on assessment of needs. Understanding how the entire  maturity model works is a key element to determine which model could be used for a certain city and to  ensure using it efficiently and successfully.


Torrinha, Pedro & Machado, Ricardo. (2017). Assessment of maturity models for smart cities supported by maturity model design principles. 252-256. 10.1109/ICSGSC.2017.8038586. Torrinha, Pedro & Machado, Ricardo. (2017). Assessment of maturity models for smart cities supported by maturity model design principles. 252-256. 10.1109/ICSGSC.2017.8038586. Clarke, R.Y.: Business Strategy: IDC Government Insights ’ Smart City Maturity Model — Assessment and Action on the Path to Maturity, (2013). Afonso, R.A., dos Santos Brito, K., do Nascimento, C.H., Garcia, V.C., Álvaro, A.: Brazilian Smart Cities: Using a Maturity Model to Measure and Compare Inequality in Cities, (2015). Sustainable Business Leadership Forum: Shaping New Age Urban Systems Energy, Connectivity & Climate Resilience, (2014).   Author: Hossam El Shoukry, Country Head of Real Estate at Siemens Egypt and Alumni of the Master's in Global Smart City Management

Zigurat Global Institute of Technology