WATT weekly


Global Smart City Initiatives by Countries, Automakers

Information exchange with infrastructure is indispensable for realizing BEVs, autonomous vehicles and connectivity. For this reason, attention is focused on smart cities that build such places in advance. The definition of “smart city” has yet to be determined; however, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) defines smart cities as “Optimized sustainable cities or districts where management (planning, maintenance, administration, operation, etc.) is carried out by utilizing new technologies such as ICT for various issues facing the city.” This report provides an overview of smart city initiatives being implemented around the world. According to MLIT, smart city initiatives in Japan are shifting from individual sector-specific approach to cross-sector approach. In order to realize a smart city, it is necessary to optimize the entire region across sectors while constructing systems in individual sectors. In August 2019, the Smart City Public-Private Partnership Platform was established by the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and MLIT. The platform promotes smart city initiatives nationwide through public-private partnerships.

* ICT=Information and Communication Technology

In the United States, a total of 50 million US dollars has been provided to the city of Columbus, Ohio, which won the Smart City Challenge, a competition for realizing a smart city sponsored by the US Department of Transportation. The project called Smart Columbus promotes connected cars and multimodal mobility.

In Canada, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet a Google holding company, is planning a project called Sidewalk Toronto. Traffic and energy data will be constantly collected by sensors embedded throughout the city, and experiments will be conducted toward the creation of future cities using IoT. Despite growing resentment due to concerns about privacy breaches associated with digitalization, Sidewalk Labs released an updated plan reflecting public comments in October 2019. The project’s supervisor Waterfront Toronto, a government’s agency, announced tentative approval of the project in the same month. Automakers are also working on smart city-related projects that use BEVs.

Renault has implemented the world's first smart island project with an energy supplier on the island of Porto Santo, Portugal. Using 40 BEV charging stations and ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. models, the company aims to realize V2G which supplies power from BEVs to the power grid when power demand increases. On the other hand, for charging from the grid, smart charging is enabled so that charging is not performed during times of high electricity rates. The company is also working on reusing BEV batteries.

VW is developing a model zone for electric mobility in Germany. The company combines BEVs and other modes of transportation to build flexible mobility services that meet the needs of local residents. In addition to mobility, VW also plans smart homes and sustainable energy use.

Smart Cities of Japan: Definition and Recent Undertakings

From individual sector-specific approach to cross-sector approach

・The definition of the term “smart city” is currently undefined. – The City Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism defines smart cities as “Optimized sustainable cities or districts where management (planning, maintenance, administration, operation, etc.) is carried out by utilizing new technologies such as ICT for various issues facing the city.” – The Smart City Public-Private Partnership Platform defines smart cities as “By utilizing advanced technologies, efforts are being made to improve the efficiency and sophistication of urban and regional functions and services, solving various issues and creating new value including comfort and convenience. A place for proactive realization of Society 5.0.” ・According to MLIT, smart city initiatives in Japan have been utilizing ICT and data in recent years. The “cross-sector” approach covers a wide range of sectors, such as the environment, energy, transportation, communications, education, medical care and health. – Around 2010, great efforts were made using the “individual sector-specific” for specific sectors such as energy. ・MLIT has stated that the concept of smart city initiatives is to build systems for individual sectors in each region and to optimize cities and regions across sectors.

Smart City Public-Private Partnership Platform

・In August 2019, the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and MLIT established the “Smart City Public-Private Partnership Platform” to promote smart city initiatives through public-private partnerships. – It is based on the “Integrated Innovation Strategy 2019” determined by the Cabinet in June 2019. – To realize Society 5.0, which is a high-level fusion of cyber and physical, smart cities that utilize new technologies and data such as AI and IoT will be positioned as the basic concept of city development. – As of the end of October 2019, there were 480 members. More specifically, there were 468 organizations (355 enterprises, universities and research institutes, 113 local governments) that engaged in smart city-related business, and 12 related ministries and economic organizations. Companies include Mazda and Denso.

MLIT: Smart City Model Business

・In May 2019, MLIT selected and announced advanced model projects for the smart city model business.

United States

Smart Columbus

・From the end of 2015 through to 2016, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) held a competition, Smart City Challenge, to improve traffic congestion, crime prevention and citizen services. In June 2016, Columbus, Ohio, was elected as the winning city. The city has proposed improvements to the transportation system with an eye on reducing infant mortality in low-income households. – The Smart City Challenge introduces new technologies, such as connected, autonomous driving, sensors and smart grids, seeking ideas for solving unique city-specific traffic and transportation issues. The recruitment was for medium-sized US cities (population 200,000-850,000). The city with the best proposal was funded to develop and implement the proposal. – A total of 50 million US dollars (including 40 million US dollars from DOT) was provided to the city of Columbus. ・Through Smart Columbus, real-time data is aggregated on a web platform called the Smart Columbus Operating System and used for each project. ・The basic plan, which was revised in 2017, has a total of eight themes under three pillars (technology introduction, user services and new technology development). Themes are as follows: – Environment for connected vehicles: Introducing an environment for connected vehicles, mainly at intersections where accidents frequently occur, and verify the effects. – Multi-modal transfer planning and common payment system: Providing a seamless common payment system for transfer guidance and fares, including sharing. – Smart mobility hub: Wi-Fi will be installed at bus stops and terminals to promote the use of various modes of transportation. – Mobility support for people with cognitive disabilities: Developing a support application that enables people with cognitive disabilities to travel alone. – Mobility support for pregnant women: Providing mobility support services for pregnant women. – Parking management during events: Introducing a system that can centrally manage information about each parking lot and make reservations in order to be able to cope with congestion during events. – Connected autonomous-driving BEV: Sequentially introducing a pilot program for a series of use cases. Introducing a Level 4 self-driving car for specific short-haul routes that are difficult to manage by other means of transportation. – Truck platooning: Introducing a system that prioritizes connected truck platoons in order to reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment in Columbus which is a logistics base. ・The city of Columbus is promoting the Smart Columbus project in partnership with several companies. AT&T provides various communication technologies and big data analysis technologies, Amazon provides cloud service, NXT and Cohda Wireless provide vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology, Sidewalk Labs provides sensor network, and Continental provides smart intersection transportation system.

Smart Dallas

・In 2016, the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA), a public-private partnership implementing a smart city program, was launched. January 2018, the project for the second phase of the Smart Cities Living Lab was announced. Main undertakings are as follows: Smart parking that can comprehend traffic volume and availability of parking spaces Public Wi-Fi in Dallas provided by AT&T, Cisco, Nokia and Scientel Solutions – Smart City Digital Infrastructure by AT&T – Smart irrigation using weather data


Sidewalk Toronto

・In October 2017, Sidewalk Labs, smart city subsidiary of Alphabet which is a holding company of Google, announced a collaborative project “Sidewalk Toronto” with a government agency called Waterfront Toronto. Waterfront Toronto put forth a request for proposals in March 2017 selected Sidewalk Labs for the development of a smart city Toronto’s eastern waterfront. ・The project is intended to create a new local community in the area called Quayside on the eastern waterfront and pilot new technologies for smart cities. – The project is expected to cost 1.3 billion US dollars. – The area will be a place where thousands of people will live, work, learn, play, becoming a place to create and promote new ideas to improve urban life. It is intended to become the world’s first example for reducing living costs, lowering commuting and commuting time, and slashing the city’s carbon footprint. ・Sensors will be embedded throughout the city and information such as traffic flow, air pollution, energy consumption, movement patterns and emissions are constantly collected to create models. IoT’s will be set up at traffic lights and parking lots to analyze traffic flow. ・In October 2019, Waterfront Toronto tentatively approved Sidewalk Labs for going ahead with the project despite concerns over digital projects regarding privacy violations of citizens. – Sidewalk Labs submitted a plan to Waterfront Toronto in June 2018. Following feedback from the public, Sidewalk Labs announced a project update in October 2019. – The area of Quayside is 5 hectares. Sidewalk Labs’ initial plan was to expand the scope of the development, but Waterfront Toronto called for reconsideration, limiting it to 5 hectares.


EIP-SCC / Lighthouse project

・The European Commission has formed the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). – The six action clusters (a group of partners working on specific smart city issues) are: 1 Business Models, Finance and Procurement, 2 Citizen Focus, 3 Integrated Planning / Policy & Regulations, 4 Integrated Infrastructures & Processes (including Open Data), 5 Sustainable Districts and Built Environment and 6 Sustainable Urban Mobility. – As of June 2019, there were about 4,600 partners from 31 countries and about 370 projects. ・In the EU’s research innovation framework Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), a technology development project for smart cities that focuses on energy, transport and ICT is called Lighthouse. – Since 2014, 12 projects have been implemented. The project addresses challenges to ensure safe and affordable clean energy and smart e-mobility / tools / services.

United Kingdom


・In the UK, UK CITE (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment), which has prepared a state-of-the-art environment for testing self-driving cars for about 30 months since June 2016, was implemented. – The project is led by Visteon and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). Other participants are HORIBA MIRA, Huawei UK, Siemens and Coventry City Council among others. It received a total of 7.1 million British pounds from the UK government’s Intelligent Mobility Fund and others. - The project evaluated the feasibility of V2X technology on highways, intercity and urban roads spanning approximately 66km. The V2V communication system was verified using 100 CAV (Connected Automated Vehicle) research vehicles, including JLR models. - In November 2018, the project was completed with a demonstration test using JLR's connected vehicles. The V2X environment built through UK CITE will be integrated into the Midlands Future Mobility Program.



・The project is funded by the EU with 6 million euros and is implemented primarily in Santander, Spain as part of research and development of ICT under the EU's Innovation Framework FP7. – The project utilizes various technologies to install sensors in cities (12,000 in Santander and about 8,000 in Belgrade, Serbia, Guildford, UK and Lübeck, Germany). The sensors are intended to improve mobility and energy efficiency. – By utilizing sensors for bus operation, users can use an application to search the arrival times of buses. Sensors are also used to collect passenger information at the center and use it for signal control. – By utilizing sensors for garbage collection, a route plan for a collection vehicle can be made according to the amount of garbage accumulated in the garbage container.


Xiong'an New Area

・In April 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council announced the master plan for the Xiong’an New Area. The goal was to establish an eco-friendly and smart transportation system. – By 2035, the goal is to build a high-level socialist modernized city where people and nature coexist which is green, low-carbon, information-oriented, smart, competitive and influential. – The Xiong’an New Area is a national special zone following the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area. It was established in April 2017 to decentralize Beijing’s non-capital functions. ・Automakers and major IT companies are promoting the expansion of new energy vehicles and public road testing of autonomous vehicles in the Xiong’an New Area. – In August 2017, Chinese state-owned holding company CRRC Group and Xiong’an New Area agreed to construct ITS, build an eco-friendly city and promote the use of new energy vehicles in the Xiong’an New Area. – In April 2018, Chinese transportation company Beijing Shouqi (Group) launched 20 BEVs for ride-sharing services in the Xiong’an New Area. (Created using PR materials of companies and organizations, and various media and other sources)


・Renault announced in February 2018 that it would launch a smart fossil fuel project on the island of Porto Santo, Portugal, with Portuguese energy supplier Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira (EEM, Portugal). – As the world’s first smart island initiative, BEVs, second-life batteries, smart charging and V2G will increase energy independence and promote the calculation of renewable energy. – Renault would provide 14 ZOE and 6 Kangoo Z.E. models to volunteer users for daily use. Users can use 40 charging stations. – Renault and its partners aim to realize V2G, which supplies power from BEVs to the power grid when power demand increases sharply. In addition, the present invention realizes smart charging that not only stabilizes power supply but also prevents charging when power demand is high and power rates are high. – The adoption of Second Life Battery, enables the reuse of the ZOE’s used battery as storage. As of July 2019, six batteries were connected to the grid, with a capacity equivalent to the power consumed by 50 households in 30 minutes. Recycled batteries are expected to last about 10 years. – America’s The Mobility House (TMH), which provides a platform to integrate BEV batteries into the power grid, is collaborating on a smart energy platform with Renault. – The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s venture capital fund Alliance Ventures invested in TMH in June 2019.

Renault / Nissan

・In June 2019, Renault and Nissan opened Alliance Innovation Lab at Atidim Park (a business park developed by Tel Aviv City and Tel Aviv University) in Tel Aviv, Israel. – The Lab focuses on sensors for autonomous driving, cyber security and big data. It is working on more than 10 joint projects with local startups. The opening of the new facility will strengthen these collaborations and the exclusive partnership with the Israel Innovation Agency (IIA). – The Lab also has a partnership with TelAviv's CityZone smart city area. CityZone provides an innovation ecosystem in a real-world urban environment for start-ups seeking to realize smart cities. In addition, the excellent location of Atidim Park enables concept verification and joint development of prototypes in an optimal environment.


・VW Immobilien has been developing a model area for electric mobility in Germany since 2016 called Steimker Gärten. – There are 1,250 homes in a 22 ha area in ​​Wolfsburg. Lighting, air conditioning, locking and more functions are controlled by electricity. – The company plans to provide flexible mobility services according to needs, such as EVs, electric bicycles, and municipal buses. Connectivity with parking facilities are being improved so that residents can choose the most appropriate means of transportation. – In addition to mobility, smart homes and sustainable energy use are being planned. ・In May 2019, VW announced the formation of a new strategic alliance with Hefei City Government in Anhui Province, Jianghuai Automobile and mobility company Mobility Asia to strengthen Smart City Project initiatives in China. – The aim of the project is to focus on the development of future mobility solutions. VW and its partners provide their own know-how and aim to commercialize autonomous mobility services such as self-driving cars. – VW says the partnership will create a cutting-edge smart city.

Jaguar Land Rover

・From 2016 to 2018, JLR led the UK CITE project with Visteon to develop a state-of-the-art environment for testing self-driving cars in the UK. – The JLR has tested a system that detects signs outside the field of view and alerts the driver. Warns the driver before the driver perceives the red light or siren of an emergency vehicle. – During the verification of the road-vehicle communication system, a test was conducted on presenting signal and electronic message sign information on the in-vehicle display.


・Toyota North America is implementing a mobility initiative to improve the quality of life of South Dallas as one of the Phase 2 projects of the Smart Cities Living Lab in Dallas announced in January 2018. ・In April 2019, Toyota agreed with Panasonic to establish a joint venture in the town development business. – The two companies aim to create new value throughout the city by the establishment of a joint venture. They intend to combine Toyota’s efforts to create a new mobility service to realize a free, secure and comfortable mobility society with Panasonic’s efforts to improve living. – The joint venture Prime Life Technologies was established on January 7, 2020. The housing businesses of the two companies will be integrated, and Panasonic Homes, Panasonic Construction Engineering, Matsumura Gumi, Toyota Home and Misawa Home will be headed by the new entity. – The new company promotes three businesses: ① housing, ② construction and ③ city planning. – The new company, named “Smart Life Town (SLT),” aims to provide a safe, comfortable and convenient lifestyle. It will provide residents with services that continue to evolve and are highly optimized with cutting-edge technology for life-related infrastructure such as lifelines, communications, storage, mobility, security, insurance, shopping, logistics and housekeeping.


・Nissan is participating in the implementation of the Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP, FY 2015-2020). – Based on the demonstration project implemented in FY 2010-2014, this project is intended to expand from demonstration to implementation with an aim to become an energy-recycling city with excellent disaster prevention, environmental friendliness and economic efficiency. – The YSCP demonstration project has set a goal of introducing 2,000 BEVs by FY 2014. This goal was achieved by FY 2013, ultimately launching 2,300 units. ・Nissan Iberia, responsible for Nissan’s operations in Spain, is participating in Grow Smarter, one of the Lighthouse projects funded by Horizon 2020 in the EU. – In Barcelona, ​​Spain, Nissan is testing the effects of intelligent mobility in city settings by combining solar panels, second-life batteries for BEVs and two V2G chargers with e-car sharing services. – The two V2G chargers function as storage systems, optimizing energy consumption for mobility and other services. This measure is providing historical data on carpool fleet using Nissan BEVs. (Created using PR materials of companies, and various media and other sources) (Yukiko WAKITA)