The report “Smart Sustainable Cities ‘“ Reconnaissance Study” presents the results of a study, conducted by UNU-EGOV and funded by IDRC, that examined the thesis that Smart Cities advance sustainable development. The study analysed 876 scientific publications, recommendations from 51 think tank organizations and 119 concrete Smart City initiatives. Researchers also conducted several interviews with city managers, planners and researchers responsible for successful Smart City initiatives.
The Smart Sustainable City ‘“ the concept advanced in this report ‘“ best realizes the benefits of Smart Cities as it focuses on a continuous transformative process, based on stakeholder engagement and collaboration, and building different types of human, institutional and technical capacities. In this model, the city contributes to improving the quality of life of its citizens by pursuing socio-economic development and protecting natural resources among other locally-defined priorities.
The authors of the report highlight the importance of local circumstances in building smart cities as well as the need to involve a great variety of stakeholders. The report draws a series of policy recommendations, from open government initiatives to local sector-specific initiatives and citizen participation.
There are no off-the-shelf solutions for Smart Sustainable Cities. Every solution must to be adapted to and validated in the local context, and any strategy for implementing the Smart Sustainable City vision must be formulated and owned by the main city stakeholders.
- As cities have different levels of maturity for different dimensions, the strategy should include having stakeholders agree on priority areas.
- Smart Sustainable Cities require a two-pronged approach: top-down (government-led) to build foundations, and bottom-up (community-driven) to conduct local sector-specific initiatives, such as delivering innovative services by local Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) based on open data.
- Government’ s responsibility is to promote and stimulate bottom-up innovation. Measures could include living labs for co-creation, exploration, experimentation and evaluation of innovative ideas, scenarios and concepts, as well as testing technological instruments and artifacts in various real life usage scenarios.
- Smart Sustainable Cities should include open government initiatives to ensure access to government data, to increase participation and to leverage innovation through public service co-creation.
- To further the sustainability in Smart Cities, knowledge sharing platforms should be in place to promote good practices related to governance, transport, water, sewage, electricity, mobility, environment, urban planning, social cohesion, quality of life, citizen participation, digital infrastructure, and contextualization.
The full report is available here