Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Smart cities as large technological systems: Overcoming organizational challenges in smart cities through collective action

This study is researching the non-technological dimensions of smart cities. By reviewing the activities in 8 smart cities from a perspective of large technological systems, the authors argue that many of the challenges and solutions are organizational in nature.

The article is premised on the notion that while technologies can strengthen a city’ s capacity to tackle a wide range of challenges, implementing these technologies may require advancing organizational and political systems.

The authors raise the following question: From the perspective of smart cities as large technological systems, what are the barriers and enablers for deploying smart city technologies? This paper is based on research from science and technology studies (STS) on sociotechnical systems and interviews with city government officials. The authors argue that STS may help understand that the growth and use of technologies are as much social processes as they are technological.

Challenges and opportunities affecting North American smart city initiatives are identified. While some of these challenges are general to large technological systems, the organizational composition of smart cities creates unique issues related to the relative roles of public and private stakeholders. The authors argue that collective action solutions can be leveraged to overcome smart city organizational challenges.  

They also underline that disparate stakeholder motives inhibit the deployment of smart city technologies, including in ways that preserve privacy and security, creating organizational challenges that   must be overcome for smart city initiatives to succeed.  

While recent work has addressed smart cities from the perspectives of smart city residents, this article is focused on the perspectives of city government officials that are actively engaged in the planning, deployment, or assessment of local smart city initiatives.

The authors conclude by drawing on the perspectives of local policymakers and science and technology studies to offer pathways for local governments to overcome the organizational challenges identified through collective action and facilitate smart city development.

You can find the paper here.