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Table 1 Sustainable city assessment models

From: Knowledge-based, smart and sustainable cities: a provocation for a conceptual framework

Literature Approach Strengths and Limitations
Ahvenniemi et al. (2017) Comparative analysis between smart cities and sustainable cities assessment frameworks Strengths: The analysis reveals the lack of more environmental indicators in smart cities assessment frameworks. The authors proposed the term ‘smart sustainable cities’ to evolve existing frameworks in order to make them more complete.
Limitations: The method stage of allocating points to parameterise indicators can generate bias in results.
Arslan et al. (2016) Neighbourhood development. Leadership in energy and environmental design neighbourhood pattern and design (LEED-NPD) Strengths: The LEED-NPD tool has proven to have unique strengths to adapt to sustainable development goal (SDG) #11.
Limitations: The tool has brought new elements to the study districts, but fails to respond to the current and future needs of citizens in relation to improving the quality of urban life.
Baffour and Booth (2014) Neighbourhood concepts integrated framework Strengths: There is a harmony between the conceptual principles of neighbourhood and principles of sustainability, and this can be seen in the convergence of indicators used that point to a more productive and efficient city in terms of resources utilisation.
Limitations: Well-being is not only about wealth growth and its equity distribution, but also about a balanced natural environment and social integration.
Bourdic et al. (2012) Urban morphology Strengths: Urban morphology favours a systemic and integrative approach to urban challenges and is significant for socioeconomic and environmental issues.
Limitations: The choice of the indicators and the attribution of the weights is subjective and as we do not work with benchmarks values the results can vary a lot.
Choon et al. (2011) Sustainable city index for Malaysia Strengths: Well suited to the Malaysian national context, allowing comparability between cities.
Limitations: There is no further analysis on the proposed framework.
Ding et al. (2015) Multidimensional framework. Trinity of cities sustainability from the time, space and logic dimensions (TCS-SLTD) Strengths: The process proposed by the tool can adapt to different cities in developing countries.
Limitations: The model points to important trends that have occurred over time in the city such as population growth and urban sprawl but does not detail other important aspects of sustainability assessment.
Egger (2006) Sustainable city model, integration between global and local Strengths: Evaluates the impact of the city beyond its limits, allowing a more integral vision of sustainability and not just the simple transfer of externalities from one region to another.
Limitations: Conditions indicators are a photograph of the city’s moment and do not provide sufficient evidence about the sustainability of the city.
Egilmez et al. (2015) Fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making approach (MCDM) Strengths: The integrated methodology that links diffuse MCDM and expert panel can be useful when evaluating multiple positive and negative indicators in impact categories.
Limitations: The beaconing by experts about the importance and relative weight of indicators can bring more efficiency to the model, but risks creating bias in the evaluation.
Kennedy (2011) Urban metabolism. Transportation systems Strengths: The proposed methodology is made on urban metabolism and sustainability indicators to evaluate urban sustainability. Limitations: the study integrates environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability, but is limited to the transportation sector.
Liu et al. (2014) Cases analysis of concept cities in China Strengths: The study analyses the objectives and indicators of cities with different concepts: Tangshan Bay (Eco-city), Baoding (Low-carbon city), Shenzhen (Low-carbon eco-city)
Limitations: The proposed metabolic thinking and eco-model seems tailored for Tangshan Bay and difficult to replicate to other concept cities
Maiello et al. (2011) Case studies to unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary visions Strengths: Highlights the need of transdisciplinary vision to promote sustainable cities. Presents the relation between knowledge and urban sustainability.
Limitations: Analysed cities are restricted to Tuscany region in Italy. Multidimensional analysis was built in unidimensional scenario.
Monfaredzadeh and Berardi (2015) Comparative analysis between smart cities, sustainable cities and competitive cities Strengths: Demonstrate how each system of cities emphasise certain issues that reveals some contradictions that emerge when trying to tackle a different concept for which the given city assessment system was built.
Limitations: There is no specific recommendations on how each of these systems can be improved.
Mori and Yamashita (2015) Assessment framework of the city sustainability index (CSI) Strengths: The analysis uses five examples of city sustainability assessment in order to judge and compare the results.
Limitations: Constraint indicators should set clear limits for sustainability.
Phillis et al. (2017) Combination of statistical smoothing with fuzzy logic sustainability assessment by fuzzy evaluation (SAFE) Strengths: It points to the three indicators with the greatest potential for improvement. Allows comparability.
Limitations: Subjectivity in the choice of indicators.
Prata et al. (2014) Urban metabolism, and material flows Strengths: Adapts the city metabolism model of Newman (1999) with Sherry's (2002) materials and energy flow to assess green urban mobility and energy efficiency.
Limitations: The demonstration of impact on CO2 emissions reduction is clear, but not enough to capture other sustainability aspects that a city has.
Tumini (2016) Sustainability and resilience integrated approach (CAT-MED) Strengths: The results show the potential to take advantage of the synergies between the visions of sustainability and resilience for a better development of cities.
Limitations: The model needs new applications to check its consistency.
Yang et al. (2014) Urban metabolism energy synthesis approach Strengths: Demonstrates integration between economic, social and ecological dimensions. Provide insights into cross-boundary metabolic interactions and system metabolic sustainability.
Limitations: Besides its efforts the approach is still not enough to assess cities’ sustainability in a holistic way.
Yigitcanlar and Dur (2010). Sustainable infrastructure, land-use, environment and transport model (SILENT) Strengths: It is an integrated model that factors in various aspects of sustainability in an urban context, which models infrastructure, land-use, environment and transport systems to determine their combined sustainability.
Limitations: This geographical information system (GIS) based sustainability assessment model is data hungry model. Challenges in data collection makes the model’s operability difficult
Yigitcanlar et al. (2015a) City multiscalar approach of the city prosperity index (CPI) Strengths: For the CPI, the authors suggest a multiscale approach that goes beyond macro level assessment for micro and medium scales.
Limitations: Since the acquisition of MUSIX data is slower and more complex it was not possible to aggregate this index in the multiscale study.
Yigitcanlar et al. (2015c) Neighbourhood sustainability assessment index (NSAI) Strengths: The NSAI tool works efficiently at the local scale and allows decision-makers to evaluate local neighbourhoods’ sustainability levels adequately.
Limitations: The index is data hungry model. When it gets to larger scales, this makes the index’s operability difficult.