Brookings Institution has just published a document capturing the discussion results of a two day event on Smart Cities. The event, that took place more than a year ago (9-10 December 2013), brought together officials from cities throughout Europe, Canada and the United States to better understand the promise and practice for smart cities around the world today.
The published document provides the distillation of the key themes and takeaways from the workshop.
- Smart Cities Begin with an Economically-Driven, Technologically-Focused Vision
Participants agreed that a city’ s ability to achieve “smart’ status must begin at the planning stage. Smart cities know what they want to be; they have an overarching economic vision based on a true assessment of their strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Smart cities will then harness the power of technology to bring their economic vision to fruition. Only by first establishing a comprehensive economic vision can cities know what products to demand and what policies to adopt’”leading to a growing mar ketplace for all parties.
- A Successful City Vision Must Address Three Key Economic Drivers
THE FIRST IS PRODUCTIVITY: A city’ s economic vision must support aggregate economic growth and promote efficiencies throughout the public and private sectors. THE SECOND IS INCLUSIVITY: A vision must support opportunity for all firms and citizens. THE THIRD IS RESILIENCY: A vision must support a more sustainable built environment.
- Cities Must Reform Government to Successfully Implement Their Economic Vision
Developing a focused, forward-looking economic vision that targets long-term productivity, inclusivity, and resiliency is the first step in making cities smarter. Yet those same cities also need to make sure their internal structures can support that vision, meaning purposeful integration between technology and sustainability departments and their peers in other agencies. Participants felt that widespread changes needed to occur in the prevailing governance structures of most cities.
- Cities Must Balance the Relationship Between Project Scale and Risk Tolerance
While local governments are the crucial public sector actor in the smart city space, not all projects and plans should encompass the entire city. Alongside establishing an economic vision and reforming government, a smart city also recognizes the appropriate scale to deploy technology investments and how to measure that scale against public executives’ risk tolerances. Scale and risk management are key elements to address political, logisti cal, and financial barriers.
- Cities Require Stronger Networks and Improved Communication Tools
In light of the governance, scale, and other implementation hurdles, participants voiced the need for strong networks of leaders to drive smart city policies and investments. Representatives from the public and private sector should play a lead role forming these networks, to be sure, but they must also extend to include civic actors and other infrastructure users. Technology, as such, can serve as an effective convener, broker, enabler, and igniter for a host of interests.