SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Innovations for Asia's Smart Cities

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 2

 The world is rapidly urbanizing. More and more cities around the world are becoming increasingly popular as economic powerhouses and magnets for migrants from the countryside, suburban areas and other parts of the world. All big cities in both First and Third World countries as well as emerging markets such as New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Dehli, Jakarta etc. have to cope with high population density and serious challenges such as air pollution or traffic congestion. How do we pack more people into big cities and yet continue to achieve a high quality of life? How do we create and manage ‘good cities’ which are safe, spacious, green, connected, fair and resilient? How can cities create economic wealth while still fulfilling the CSR responsibilities of sustaining a "Green Planet"? What are the best practice designs and technical smart city solutions which could be leveraged to tackle these challenges and how can they be successfully commercialised? This new course will provide answers to these questions with special emphasis on the managerial and commercial aspects of smart city concepts.

The key lies in creating and effectively managing innovative and sustainable, smart cities able to leverage on new technologies such as smart grids or sensor networks to create a place where people can live, play and work well. Starting from the stakeholder requirements of citizens and planners of innovative cities, the course will introduce students to urban design concepts as well as commercialization, management challenges and implementation issues of the smart city model. There will also be a focus on how good governance and enabling technologies such as sensor networks can facilitate the creation, management and sustainability of ‘good’ cities.

With the help of case studies and resource persons such as industry leaders, innovative city designers, tech experts and business development experts from local and int. companies such as ST Electronics, JTC, Jurong Consultants, Frost & Sullivan, IDA International etc., students will be familiarized with the opportunities and challenges of the ‘smart city business’ which represents a key element in the value creation and extraction strategy of the Singapore Government and related businessesThe overall objective of this module is to equip students with core knowledge of appreciating what it takes to plan, design, build and sustain (mega) cities that are innovative and sustainable and to know the challenges of successfully ‘selling’ new smart city concepts amidst increasing competition in this field.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Describe the core characteristics of a Smart City and respective concepts
  • Explain the unique characteristics of each component and how it adds value to innovative and sustainable (smart) cities
  • Understand the planning and design principles of Innovative & Sustainable Cities
  • Explain the workings of each component of Innovative & Sustainable Cities
  • Be familiar with the challenges of selected mega cities around the globe and understand how the smart city concept can add value in terms of livability
  • Explain how to successfully commercialise smart city concepts and applications
  • Know the key players in the Singapore context which are involved in this service sector and establish network contacts


Teaching will take the form of two,  two-hour seminar and a one-hour language laboratory work each week.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework. Each student will be required to submit:

Term Paper 2000 words (20%), Minor Group Project 1 (25%), Major Group Project 2 (35%) and Class Participation (20%)

Suggested reading

Beyond the Knowledge Trap by Thomas Menkhoff (Editor); Hans-Dieter Evers (Editor); Chay Yue Wah (Editor); Pang Eng Fong (Editor)

Enabling the Smart City: The Progress of E-city Governance in Europe. by Paskaleva, K. (2009).

• European Smart Cities

• How to make a city great (McKinsey)

• IBM Smarter Cities

• Intelligent Cities: Towards Interactive and Global Innovation Environments by Komninos, N. (2009).

• MIT City Science

• Service Providers Accelerate Smart City by Jennifer Bélissent, Ph.D. and Frederic Giron Report by Forrester Research

• Smart Cities and Communities

• The Global City: Introducing a Concept by Sassen, Saskia (2005)

• Understanding Smart Cities: An Integrative Framework (Hafedh Chourabi, et al) 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules