Rethinking "Smart-Only" Islands

The term “smart islands“ is becoming almost as popular as “smart cities”. Both are determined by what Streitz calls the “Smart-Everything Paradigm” (Streitz, 2021, 2022), a mainly technology-driven development encountered with smart cars, smart cities, and also smart islands. It is mainly characterized by smart services based on data collected by a variety of sensors and combined with actuators as part of an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, monitored and controlled by software using Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), resulting in an increasing degree of automation and privacy infringements. Humans are increasingly removed from being the “operator” and thus in control of their interactions and decisions in virtual and physical environments. Thus, we must ask – and answer - the question: “What kind of cities and islands do we want to live in?”


The answer is based on Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands Towards Self-Aware and Cooperative Hybrid Islands. Similar to the critical reflection of "smart-only" cities, there is the need for a counter proposal to "smart-only" islands. This requires a human-/citizen/islander-centered design approach for moving beyond ‘smart-only’ islands towards humane, sociable, and cooperative islands, based on the properties of self-aware hybrid islands, thus applying the lessons learned from smart cities to smart islands. Smartness is redefined as ‘self-awareness’, i.e., how much the island knows about itself and how it communicates collected data and their aggregations to its islanders and the island administration. Motivating islanders to get engaged, be part of the local community, allowing for data collection and to contribute data actively cannot be valued highly enough. It requires participatory design and keeping the islanders in the loop and to foster co-provision, co-creation, and co-exploitation. Viewing the island and its islanders as ‘mutual cooperation partners’ and developing a common purpose is the basis for a ‘Islanders <=> Island Cooperation Contract’, which regulates the necessary design trade-offs, enabling to meet the needs and to provide appropriate services. Streitz proposes also to view islands as ‘hybrid’ islands on at least three dimensions (real vs. virtual, sea vs. land, urban vs. rural) and proposed several actions to exploit the seams and transitions between them.


A major aspect for the discussion of the challenges of moving beyond 'smart-only' islands is the combination of relevant issues of Human-Environment Interactions in the context of smart ecosystems and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Selected Events

On 26. - 27. October 2021, the "Rethinking Smart Islands and their Transformation towards Lighthouse of Research and Innovation" Event took place in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. It consisted of a keynote by Norbert Streitz and additional presentations on the first day, followed by a Workshop & Participatory Design Café conceived and conducted by Christine Riedmann-Streitz and Norbert Streitz on the second day. The event was organized and supported by the University of Madeira and ARDITI as partners of the EU-funded FORWARD project. 


On 19. - 20. September 2022, another event took place consisting of two keynotes by Norbert Streitz and Christine Riedmann-Streitz on the first day, followed by a Workshop & Participatory Design Café conceived and conducted by Christine Riedmann-Streitz and Norbert Streitz on "Issues and Challenges for Human-Environment Interaction in the Light of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)". The event was organized and supported by the Human Computer Interaction Laboratory, Institute of Computer Science (ICS-FORTH).Heraklion, Crete, Greece



Norbert A. Streitz, Christine Riedmann-Streitz (2022). Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands towards Humane, Self-Aware, and Cooperative Hybrid Islands. Interactions.
Volume 29 Issue 3 (May-June Issue 2022).
pp. 54 - 60. ACM Press.

Web version of the Interactions magazine:


Norbert A. Streitz, Christine Riedmann-Streitz, Lúcio Quintal (2022).

From ‘Smart-only’ Island towards Lighthouse of Research and Innovation.

In: Proceedings of the 10. International Conference on Distributed, Ambient and Pervasive Interactions: Smart Environments, Ecosystems, and Cities. (DAPI 2022). pp. 105 - 126. Springer. Lecture Notes in Computer Science LNCS 13325.


Norbert Streitz (2022). Rethinking Smart Islands via Participatory Design to Transform Madeira into a Lighthouse of Research & Innovation.

Invited talk at the Final General Assembly and Advisory Board Meeting of the EU-funded FOWARD-Project: Fostering Research Excellence in EU Outermost Regions Brussels, Belgium (1. - 2. June 2022).


Norbert Streitz (2021). Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands Towards Self-Aware and Cooperative Hybrid Islands. Keynote at the 2-Day Seminar on "Scientific Excellence in Research and Innovation", part of the FORWARD Project and organized by ARDITI and University of Madeira. Funchal, Madeira, Portugal (26.-27. October 2021)


Norbert Streitz (2021). From Smart-Only Cities towards Humane and Cooperative Hybrid Cities. Technology | Architecture + Design. Volume 5, Issue 2.
pp. 127 - 133. (Taylor & Francis).
DOI: 10.1080/24751448.2021.1967050