The topic of smart cities is filling increasing column inches across tech media. But some of the terminology can be complex. To appropriately understand the urban environments of tomorrow, it’s necessary to grasp the lexicon that comes with them.
Here’s a glossary.

API
API stands for ‘application programming interface’. It’s a set of definitions, protocols and tools that allows different software and hardware to integrate with one another.

Autonomous vehicles
We’re fast approaching the era of self-driving cars. They’re just one type of autonomous vehicle - a category of vehicles that can sense the environment around them and navigate from one place to another without human input.

Big data
Big data refers to the collection of data sets that are so large and complex that it’s difficult to capture, transfer, store, process and interpret with traditional data processing applications. It allows for rich information to be derived on a range of variables such as real-time traffic conditions, air pollution and energy use.

Citizen-centric approach
The delivery of services based on solving the needs and challenges of the people they serve - used as a way to increase public satisfaction, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

City-as-a-Service
Combines Infrastructure-as‐a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies for use as a common, city-wide platform for the deployment of integrated smart city technologies. Think: operating system for the city.

Hyper-local data
Data gathered or shared within a very tight geographical area, such as a street or apartment block.

IoT
Crudely, the concept of things (such as devices or everyday objects) to have built-in internet connectivity and the ability to communicate with other connected devices.

LPWAN
Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) is a type of wireless telecommunication wide area network. It facilitates long range communications at a low bit rate between connected objects. Think: a network through which city infrastructure can communicate.

Multi-modal transport
Simply a system that facilitates a variety of transport options, such as cycling, bus, light rail, train, ferry or walking.

Open data
Data that is freely available for everyone to use without copyright, patent or other restrictions.

Platform-as-Service
A category of cloud computing services that provides a platform to facilitate the development and management of digital applications.

Predictive analysis
The use of statistical techniques such as predictive modelling, machine learning and data mining to analyse data and make predictions about the future.

Sensors
An electronic component, module or subsystem used to detect events, triggers or changes in the surrounding environment.

Situational awareness
In short: awareness of the surrounding environment; the perception of environmental elements and events and understanding of their meaning. For example: autonomous vehicles have situation awareness.

Small data
Small data refers to highly specific fragments of data collected by a large population of sensors. The data, such as an air quality measurements, are small in size but very precise in terms of time and place (see “hyperlocal data”).

Smart waste
Waste receptacles, such as city litter bins and commercial waste bins, equipped with connected sensors that collect and share data on, for example, the need for and frequency of waste collections.

Smart city
A city that uses smart technologies and connected infrastructure to gather data, improve the provision of public services, reduce civic costs, increase liveability for citizens and boost sustainability.

Smart city applications/apps
A type of smart city technology or system that has a specific function: such as smart street lighting, smart bins or smart drains.

Smart drains
Drains equipped with sensors that send alerts when they are in danger of over-silting or overflowing, and collect fill rate data that can be used for highly efficient predictive cleaning operations.

Smart grid
An enhanced electrical grid that uses analogue or digital technology to gather and act on information such as supplier or consumer behaviour to automatically improve the efficiency and sustainability of electricity distribution.

Smart infrastructure
The integration of smart technologies into the fundamental systems that serve a city or municipal area.

Smart street lighting
Street lights that can be controlled wirelessly to save energy and reduce maintenance costs. The wireless network controlling street lighting can also be expanded to connect sensors that gather data on weather conditions, air pollution and more.

Smart networks
A network that contains built-in diagnostics, management, fault tolerance and other capabilities to prevent downtime and maintain efficient performance.

Smart parking
A system that helps drivers find vacant parking spaces using sensors and communications networks.

Sustainability
The maintenance and betterment of the ecological, social and economic health of a city.

Traffic adaptive lighting
With this type of smart street lighting the brightness of the street lighting varies automatically based on real-time traffic flow data.

Ubiquitous cities (U-cities)
A hyper-connected smart city: all information systems working in the city are linked and virtually everything is connected to a cohesive city platform.

UNB network
A type of LPWAN pioneered by Telensa to connect smart city sensors and controls at low cost for the rapid integration of smart city applications.

Unstructured data
Information that lacks a pre-defined data model for interpretation or analysis.

Urban data platform
Provides a cohesive digital environment for the aggregation of data across multiple geographic areas or civic functions of the city. Think: a single platform for collecting and sharing city data.

Wireless lighting
Lighting that can be controlled wirelessly. See: smart street lighting.

Workability
A measure of viability of a smart city application relating to economic competitiveness and productivity.

What next?
Telensa is developing (linkhttps://www.telensa.com/news/hong-kong-highways-department-selects-telensa-for-yuen-long-smart-street-lighting-pilot text: smart street lighting) and other smart city devices that have already been deployed from Sheffield to Shanghai. Come and take a look.

You may also be interested in:
Smart cities: think cost-savings, not technology-touting
Smart cities: what about the suburbs and the villages of tomorrow?