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Top 8 Online Courses To Kickstart Your Smart City Career

From Seol, South Korea to Barcelona, Spain and New York City, USA, the great cities of the world are undergoing a technological upgrade. We sourced the available Smart City online courses to find the best ones to prepare you for a successful smart city career.

Cities are quickly following our phones’ example by becoming “smart”, and a huge demand has opened for professionals in the Smart City industry. The time is ripe for a career change revolving around Smart Cities, and whether you’re looking to data science or software engineering as your way in, we’ve got a handful of perfect courses to prepare you for your new field.

Online Courses for Smart City Foundations

We’re going to tackle this in two stages: foundations and advanced. Instead of listing 500 courses specialized to every urban asset from plumbing to parks management, it’s far more beneficial to present some broader courses first that equip you to grasp the intricacies of Urban infrastructure and technology in general, and then present additional courses geared towards more specialized applications. Let’s start with the foundations:

1. Urban Innovation

smart city online course, Urban Innovation, Sustainability, udemy

Sustainability and Technology Solutions – Cities are a complex thing. Think about it. Let’s take millions of ambition filled, needy humans and cram them into one skyscraper filled living space. What could possibly go wrong? This introductory course at Udemy serves as a great introduction to the themes and complexities of urban life and innovation. It’s free course, requires minimal commitment, and will bode well for the curious looking for a good place to start.

This course by Cubic Transport Systems takes less than a week, and will teach students about the key themes and difficulties when it comes to understanding city life and the use of technology to fuel innovation and sustainability. Useful seminars and lectures based on real world examples are used to equip students with a foundational understanding critical for potential urban professionals. Optional quizzes help insure that the student can track along well, and certification is also available.

2. Future Cities

After you’ve gotten your feet wet with the above introduction at Udemy, this course at EdX molds the concepts of technology and urbanity together to launch the student into the realm of Smart Cities and the future of urban development. This 10 week course is headed by 7 professors from ETH Zurich and utilizes a mix of lectures and exposure to the latest research. It lacks a concrete skills assessment, but by the end it aims to equip students with an understanding of the complexities of city life, the basis of planning, designing, and adapting a city, as well as introduce data driven approaches for developing smart cities.

3. Introduction to Big Data

smart city online course, introduction to big data, coursera

According to CNBC International, two of the key components Smart Cities are hinging on is the incorporation of Big Data and the Internet of Things. This 3 week course by the University of California San Diego introduces the former, and, while the field of Big Data can be gargantuan, the course provides a great mix of theory and hands on instruction to give students a thorough foundation.

Through this course, students will become familiar with the basic terminology and vernacular associated with Big Data in a way that benefits those wanting a career associated with the field, and by the end you will be running programs and extracting value from Big Data. One of the greatest strengths of this course is the incorporation of videos, quizzes, and projects as assessments to ensure you’re actually mastering the assigned material, and, of course, your efforts are well rewarded with a certificate of completion.

4. Internet of Things and Augmented Reality Emerging Technologies

The above course covers the first of the two critical components to the innovation of Smart Cities, while this highly reviewed and rated course covers the second, the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to the wireless connection, communication, and cooperation of the infrastructure around us, and this 2 week introduction by Yonsei University utilizes lectures to familiarize students with the introductory concepts of IoT, including everything from Economic Impact to Applications and the M2M ecosystem.

In addition to IoT, this course also introduces the usefulness of Augmented Reality, a viable concept to students as it is the powerhouse behind the digital mapping and monitoring of Smart Cities. In addition to providing the introductory basics of these two crucial concepts, students can also assess their progress through quizzes and graded materials. (

Advanced Smart City Online Courses

After utilizing the above courses and familiarizing yourself with what you need to be acquainted with in a career associated with Smart Cities, the following courses provide more advanced and specialized instruction towards specific components within Smart Cities.

5. Responsible Innovation

smart city online course, Responsible Innovation, edx

Ethics and Safety and Technology – the inclusion of this course might come as a surprise to some, but to those responsible for leading development and innovation in Smart Cities, it could prove crucial. Technological advancements don’t happen in a vacuum, and this course by TUDelft seeks to engage students with the need to analyze risks, reflect on new technologies, and understand Value Sensitive Design when designing and implementing technological advancements in cities. This 7-week course, while void of tests and quizzes for assessment, utilizes case studies and discussion boards to inform and engage the student with the course material, and offers a certificate upon completion.

6. Responsive Cities

smart city online course, responsive cities, edx

Believe it or not, Smart Cities are just the beginning, and this course is perfect for the entrepreneur and think tank looking to jump onto the next phase of the Smart City, the Responsive City. Responsive Cities move citizens into the center of providing and interacting with Smart City data, and, by the end of this course, students will be familiar with using Citizen Design Science and the Qua-Kit to engage in urban planning and quality development. Expect the course to take about 10 weeks, but don’t expect boredom as it features an intriguing mix of lectures, hands on projects with state of the art software, as well as quizzes and labs to assess your progress.

7. Build Your Own Internet of Things

smart city online course, internet of things specialization, coursera

This 17 week Specialization bundle is not for the faint of heart, because it takes the previously mentioned importance of the Internet of Things and puts real world application behind it in a mix of theory, labs, the DragonBoard 410c Platform, and a final capstone project where the student gets to design and build a Mobile Surveillance System. As stated, this course is actually a bundle of courses specifically for entrepreneurs and innovators who wish to dive into the Internet of Things and develop their careers. As such, there are some prerequisites, but the benefits, including assessment projects and certification, are more than worth it. (

8) Getting Started with Augmented Reality

smart city online course, getting started with augmented reality, coursera

Augmented Reality is intricately linked to the present and future development of Smart Cities, and as a result this course in priceless for entrepreneurs wanting to get into the game. This course’s goal is to teach learners how to program a variety of mobile applications using Mixed and Augmented Reality. The coursework is highly hands-on, and progress is assessed by successful completion of projects and tasks. By the end, students will understand how to make apps that revolve around image recognition and object tracking, and feasibly programming useful Smart City apps will be only a few steps away.


The new technological developments breaking into the 21st century are making city life more intriguing and exciting. This excitement just adds to the passion of entrepreneurs, developers, and urban planners, and as you seek to join their ranks, the above-mentioned courses are sure to provide much of the necessary foundations and specializations needed for a successful career jump into the Smart City industry. A great additional resource to introduce innovative ideas and prepare you for your smart city career are Smart City TED Talks.

If you were interested in this article chances are you want to prepare yourself for a career in the field of smart cities. If this is the case make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive all upcoming tips to kickstart your smart city career.

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Theresa Kern

Business Development at beta|careers
Theresa is a management student and team member of the 2017 class at beta|careers.

Her responsibilities include growing and nurturing our platforms and, occasionally, taking care of bus tickets for the team. In her free time, she can be found on horseback out in the woods.
Theresa Kern
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