John D. Macomber, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, argues that private entrepreneurs and civic entrepreneurs need to match smart cities projects to specific circumstances. He proposes to break cities into four segments across two distinctions: legacy vs. new cities, and developed vs. emerging economies. The opportunities to innovate will differ greatly by segment.
The current buzz around “smart cities’ is driven by many forces, ranging from political leaders to academic writing to vendor enthusiasm. Elites can be distracted by cool technology and tourist-friendly innovations, but that’ s not the whole story. Most cities can’ t pay directly for “smartness,’ and often they can’ t even finance basic infrastructure, so innovation in many situations has to be led also by private capital with a focus on interventions that pay for themselves. Global urban innovators will do well to consider the different situations and approaches across the four segments and to match goals and financing appropriately.
Macomber identifies 4 types of cities and for each type he states the characteristics, the implications for city leaders and the implications for entrepreneurs.
- Segment 1: Developed Economy, Legacy City (Examples: London, Detroit, Tokyo, Singapore)
- Segment 2: Emerging Economy, Legacy City (Examples: Mumbai, SÃ£o Paolo, Jakarta)
- Segment 3: Emerging Economy, New City (Examples: Phu My Hung, Vietnam; Suzhou, China; Astana, Kazakhstan; Singapore)
- Segment 4: Developed Economy, New City (Examples: New Songdo City, Masdar City, Hafen City Hamburg)
Read the article: The 4 Types of Cities and How to Prepare Them for the Future