The Key To Being A Smart City Is Good Governance: “Smart Governance”

What’s it take to be a smart city? Is it smart transportation, such as sensors in parking spaces that call out to drivers like sirens calling to Ulysses as he headed back to Ithaca? Or parking meters sending SMS messages to alert those parked that their time is up, like a baby bird calling to be fed? Is it smart buildings that turn the lights on when you enter or off when you leave? Is it smart waste management? Is it smart energy grids? Is it smart water systems? Or smart administration? All of these help make city services and operations more efficient. But the real key to being smart is to have an overall management system that allows leaders to coordinate across these smart systems, capturing and sharing the data generated and using it to inform new policies and city programs. Smart cities require good – “smart” – governance and the processes and tools that enable it.

Increasingly, city leaders are adopting enterprise management practices – and technologies – in order to improve city governance. Smart city leaders:

  • Match budgeted spending with performance objectives.
  • Adopt enterprise apps such as EAM, ERP, and CRM in shared or cloud models.
  • Appoint professional operational and IT management to coordinate.
  • Implement regular process and performance reviews – and supporting technologies.
  • Establish integrated reporting for greater transparency.

All of these provide opportunities for technology vendors and service providers. 

In a previous blog post, I discuss the efforts to better inform and serve citizens through open data and 311 initiatives. These services provide additional mechanisms for collecting direct feedback. Combining this data with program performance tracking and data analytics tools, city leaders are able to do scenario planning and make more informed policy decisions, completing the cycle of smart city governance. The graphic above illustrates the cycle with the technologies that enable each step – and highlights the central role of data and system integration.

Making a city smart is a complex, multi-technology undertaking, requiring a wide range of tools to bring it all together. Many smart city projects have started with the most critical pain points in the city – which makes sense. But technology providers must focus on the bigger picture as well as the sector-specific offerings. Good governance requires integration, data capture and analytics, and better tools to enable city leaders to leverage this data to better serve their citizens. 

Take a look at my new report, Smart City Leaders Need Better Governance Tools: Smart City Governance Brings New Opportunities For Tech Providers.

And tune into my Forrester teleconference on May 19, The Core Of A Smart City Must Be Smart Governance.

I’m always looking for great smart city and smart city governance stories. 

And, of course, feedback welcome.



good stuff--practical mechanisms. but what's the point? "to better serve citizens" or to better engage citizens in their own governance? you get close to it but it would be cool to hear more about your rational for involving citizens in their own governance. otherwise, the article seems to sound a little dependent on leaders doing governance to citizens (even if it's benevolent) rather than enabling them to govern themselves.
maybe you could provide a link to an article you've done re philosophical underpinnings of the mechanisms here. again, no argument here, just interested in more.

Thanks for the comment

Great feedback. It seems obvious that citizens should be engaged in their own governance -- at least if you come from a liberal, western democracy. But why? In this case, however, I'm not arguing the normative aspects of good governance -- that is why one should engage citizens for a better democracy. I'm really just looking at it from the perspective of how governments can better perform the functions they are serving -- how can they more efficiently provide the services needed and demanded by their constituents. Cities accrue benefits from engaging citizens: (1) better feedback on existing services; (2) direct input into which services are needed; and (3) contributions to the provisioning of those services. Technology can help in either case: enabling better service delivering and enabling the feedback, integrating input across different departments, and providing the data and platform for creating some of the services.