Governance and economics of smart cities: opportunities and challenges

P.B.Anand and JulioNavío-Marco in Special Issues of  Telecommunications Policy: “This editorial introduction to this special issue provides an overview and a conceptual framework of governance and economics of smart cities. We begin with a discussion of the background to smart cities and then it focuses on the key challenges for consideration in smart city economics. Here it is argued that there are four dimensions to smart city economics: the first is regarding the scale of global market for smart cities; the second issue concerns data to be used for smart city projects; the third concerns market competition and structure and the fourth concerns the impact on local economy. Likewise, smart city governance framework has to be considered a layered and multi-level concept focusing on issues of transparency and accountability to the citizens….(More)”.

The Role of Urban Living Labs in Entrepreneurship, Energy, and Governance of Smart Cities

Chapter by Ana Pego and Maria do Rosário Matos Bernardo in Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship and Marketing for Global Reach in the Digital Economy: “Urban living labs (ULL) are a new concept which involves users in innovation and development and are regarded as a way of meeting the innovation challenges faced by information and communication technology (ICT) service providers.

The chapter focuses on the role of urban living labs in entrepreneurship, energy and governance of smart cities, where it is performed the relationship between innovations, governance, and renewable energy. The methodology proposed will focus on content analysis and on the exploration of some European examples of implemented ULL, namely Amsterdam, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The contributions of the present research should be the consolidation of knowledge about the impact of ULL on innovation and development of smart cities regarding the concepts of renewable energy, smart governance and entrepreneurship….(More)”

Urban Science: Putting the “Smart” in Smart Cities

Introduction to Special Issue on Urban Modeling and Simulation by Shade T. Shutters: “Increased use of sensors and social data collection methods have provided cites with unprecedented amounts of data. Yet, data alone is no guarantee that cities will make smarter decisions and many of what we call smart cities would be more accurately described as data-driven cities.

Parallel advances in theory are needed to make sense of those novel data streams and computationally intensive decision support models are needed to guide decision makers through the avalanche of new data. Fortunately, extraordinary increases in computational ability and data availability in the last two decades have led to revolutionary advances in the simulation and modeling of complex systems.

Techniques, such as agent-based modeling and systems dynamic modeling, have taken advantage of these advances to make major contributions to diverse disciplines such as personalized medicine, computational chemistry, social dynamics, or behavioral economics. Urban systems, with dynamic webs of interacting human, institutional, environmental, and physical systems, are particularly suited to the application of these advanced modeling and simulation techniques. Contributions to this special issue highlight the use of such techniques and are particularly timely as an emerging science of cities begins to crystallize….(More)”.

How Smart Should a City Be? Toronto Is Finding Out

Laura Bliss at CityLab: “A data-driven “neighborhood of the future” masterminded by a Google corporate sibling, the Quayside project could be a milestone in digital-age city-building. But after a year of scandal in Silicon Valley, questions about privacy and security remain…

Quayside was billed as “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up,” according to Sidewalk Labs’ vision plan, which won the RFP to develop this waterfront parcel. The startup’s pitch married “digital infrastructure” with an utopian promise: to make life easier, cheaper, and happier for Torontonians.

Everything from pedestrian traffic and energy use to the fill-height of a public trash bin and the occupancy of an apartment building could be counted, geo-tagged, and put to use by a wifi-connected “digital layer” undergirding the neighborhood’s physical elements. It would sense movement, gather data, and send information back to a centralized map of the neighborhood. “With heightened ability to measure the neighborhood comes better ways to manage it,” stated the winning document. “Sidewalk expects Quayside to become the most measurable community in the world.”

“Smart cities are largely an invention of the private sector—an effort to create a market within government,” Wylie wrote in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper in December 2017. “The business opportunities are clear. The risks inherent to residents, less so.” A month later, at a Toronto City Council meeting, Wylie gave a deputation asking officials to “ensure that the data and data infrastructure of this project are the property of the city of Toronto and its residents.”

In this case, the unwary Trojans would be Waterfront Toronto, the nonprofit corporation appointed by three levels of Canadian government to own, manage, and build on the Port Lands, 800 largely undeveloped acres between downtown and Lake Ontario. When Waterfront Toronto gave Sidewalk Labs a green light for Quayside in October, the startup committed $50 million to a one-year consultation, which was recently extended by several months. The plan is to submit a final “Master Innovation and Development Plan” by the end of this year.

That somewhat Orwellian vision of city management had privacy advocates and academics concerned from the the start. Bianca Wylie, the co-founder of the technology advocacy group Tech Reset Canada, has been perhaps the most outspoken of the project’s local critics. For the last year, she’s spoken up at public fora, written pointed op-edsand Medium posts, and warned city officials of what she sees as the “Trojan horse” of smart city marketing: private companies that stride into town promising better urban governance, but are really there to sell software and monetize citizen data.

But there has been no guarantee about who would own the data at the core of its proposal—much of which would ostensibly be gathered in public space. Also unresolved is the question of whether this data could be sold. With little transparency about what that means from the company or its partner, some Torontonians are wondering what Waterfront Toronto—and by extension, the public—is giving away….(More)”.

Making a Smart City a Fairer City: Chicago’s Technologists Address Issues of Privacy, Ethics, and Equity, 2011-2018

Case study by Gabriel Kuris and Steven S. Strauss at Innovations for Successful Societies: “In 2011, voters in Chicago elected Rahm Emanuel, a 51-year-old former Chicago congressman, as their new mayor. Emanuel inherited a city on the upswing after years of decline but still marked by high rates of crime and poverty, racial segregation, and public distrust in government. The Emanuel administration hoped to harness the city’s trove of digital data to improve Chicagoans’ health, safety, and quality of life. During the next several years, Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein and his successor Tom Schenk led innovative uses of city data, ranging from crisis management to the statistical targeting of restaurant inspections and pest extermination. As their teams took on more-sophisticated projects that predicted lead-poisoning risks and Escherichia coli outbreaks and created a citywide network of ambient sensors, the two faced new concerns about normative issues like privacy, ethics, and equity. By 2018, Chicago had won acclaim as a smarter city, but was it a fairer city? This case study discusses some of the approaches the city developed to address those challenges and manage the societal implications of cutting-edge technologies….(More)”.

Searching for the Smart City’s Democratic Future

Article by Bianca Wylie at the Center for International Governance Innovation: “There is a striking blue building on Toronto’s eastern waterfront. Wrapped top to bottom in bright, beautiful artwork by Montreal illustrator Cecile Gariepy, the building — a former fish-processing plant — stands out alongside the neighbouring parking lots and a congested highway. It’s been given a second life as an office for Sidewalk Labs — a sister company to Google that is proposing a smart city development in Toronto. Perhaps ironically, the office is like the smart city itself: something old repackaged to be light, fresh and novel.

“Our mission is really to use technology to redefine urban life in the twenty-first century.”

Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, shared this mission in an interview with Freakonomics Radio. The phrase is a variant of the marketing language used by the smart city industry at large. Put more simply, the term “smart city” is usually used to describe the use of technology and data in cities.

No matter the words chosen to describe it, the smart city model has a flaw at its core: corporations are seeking to exert influence on urban spaces and democratic governance. And because most governments don’t have the policy in place to regulate smart city development — in particular, projects driven by the fast-paced technology sector — this presents a growing global governance concern.

This is where the story usually descends into warnings of smart city dystopia or failure. Loads of recent articles have detailed the science fiction-style city-of-the-future and speculated about the perils of mass data collection, and for good reason — these are important concepts that warrant discussion. It’s time, however, to push past dystopian narratives and explore solutions for the challenges that smart cities present in Toronto and globally…(More)”.

To the smart city and beyond? Developing a typology of smart urban innovation

Maja Nilssen in Technological Forecasting and Social Change: “The smart city is an increasingly popular topic in urban development, arousing both excitement and skepticism. However, despite increasing enthusiasm regarding the smartness of cities, the concept is still regarded as somewhat evasive. Encouraged by the multifaceted character of the concept, this article examines how we can categorize the different dimensions often included in the smart city concept, and how these dimensions are coupled to innovation. Furthermore, the article examines the implications of the different understandings of the smart city concept for cities’ abilities to be innovative.

Building on existing scholarly contributions on the smartness of cities and innovation literature, the article develops a typology of smart city initiatives based on the extent and types of innovations they involve. The typology is structured as a smart city continuum, comprising four dimensions of innovation: (1) technological, (2) organizational, (3) collaborative, (4) experimental.

The smart city continuum is then utilized to analyze empirical data from a Norwegian urban development project triggered by a critical juncture. The empirical data shows that the case holds elements of different dimensions of the continuum, supporting the need for a typology of smart cities as multifaceted urban innovation. The continuum can be used as an analytical model for different types of smart city initiatives, and thus shed light on what types of innovation are central in the smart city. Consequently, the article offers useful insights for both practitioners and scholars interested in smart city initiatives….(More)”

China’s Aggressive Surveillance Technology Will Spread Beyond Its Borders

Already there are reports that Zimbabwe, for example, is turning to Chinese firms to implement nationwide facial-recognition and surveillance programs, wrapped into China’s infrastructure investments and a larger set of security agreements as well, including for policing online communication. The acquisition of black African faces will help China’s tech sector improve its overall data set.

Malaysia, too, announced new partnerships this spring with China to equip police with wearable facial-recognition cameras. There are quiet reports of Arab Gulf countries turning to China not just for the drone technologies America has denied but also for the authoritarian suite of surveillance, recognition, and data tools perfected in China’s provinces. In a recent article on Egypt’s military-led efforts to build a new capital city beyond Cairo’s chaos and revolutionary squares, a retired general acting as project spokesman declared, “a smart city means a safe city, with cameras and sensors everywhere. There will be a command center to control the entire city.” Who is financing construction? China.

While many governments are making attempts to secure this information, there have been several alarming stories of data leaks. Moreover, these national identifiers create an unprecedented opportunity for state surveillance at scale. What about collecting biometric information in nondemocratic regimes? In 2016, the personal details of nearly 50 million people in Turkey were leaked….

China and other determined authoritarian states may prove undeterrable in their zeal to adopt repressive technologies. A more realistic goal, as Georgetown University scholar Nicholas Wright has argued, is to sway countries on the fence by pointing out the reputational costs of repression and supporting those who are advocating for civil liberties in this domain within their own countries. Democracy promoters (which we hope will one day again include the White House) will also want to recognize the coming changes to the authoritarian public sphere. They can start now in helping vulnerable populations and civil society to gain greater technological literacy to advocate for their rights in new domains. It is not too early for governments and civil society groups alike to study what technological and tactical countermeasures exist to circumvent and disrupt new authoritarian tools.

Seven years ago, techno-optimists expressed hope that a wave of new digital tools for social networking and self-expression could help young people in the Middle East and elsewhere to find their voices. Today, a new wave of Chinese-led technological advances threatens to blossom into what we consider an “Arab spring in reverse”—in which the next digital wave shifts the pendulum back, enabling state domination and repression at a staggering scale and algorithmic effectiveness.

Americans are absolutely right to be urgently focused on countering Russian weaponized hacking and leaking as its primary beneficiary sits in the Oval Office. But we also need to be more proactive in countering the tools of algorithmic authoritarianism that will shape the worldwide future of individual freedom….(More)”.

E-Participation in Smart Cities: Technologies and Models of Governance for Citizen Engagement

Book by Manuel Pedro Rodríguez Bolívar and Laura Alcaide Muñoz: “This book analyzes e-participation in smart cities.  In recent decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) have played a key role in the democratic political and governance process by allowing easier interaction between governments and citizens, and the increased ability of citizens to participate in the production chain of public services.  E-participation plays and important role in the development of smart cities and smart communities , but it has not yet been extensively studied.  This book fills that gap by combining empirical and theoretical research to analyze actual practices of citizen involvement in smart cities and build a solid framework for successful e-participation in smart cities.

The book is divided into three parts.  Part I discusses smart technologies and their role in improving e-participation in smart cities.  Part II deals with models of e-participation in smart cities and the organization issues affecting the implementation of e-participation; these chapters analyze the efficiency of governance models in relation to the establishment of smart cities.  Part III proposes incentives to motivate increased participation by governments and cititzenry within the smart cities context.  Written by an international panel of experts and practitioners, this book will be a convenient source of information on e-participation in smart cities and will be valuable to academics, researchers, policy-makers, public managers, citizens, international organizations and anyone who has a stake in enhancing citizen engagement in smart cities….(More)”.

Reclaiming the Smart City: Personal Data, Trust and the New Commons

Report by Theo Bass, Emma Sutherland and Tom Symons: “Cities are becoming a major focal point in the personal data economy. In city governments, there is a clamour for data-informed approaches to everything from waste management and public transport through to policing and emergency response

This is a triumph for advocates of the better use of data in how we run cities. After years of making the case, there is now a general acceptance that social, economic and environmental pressures can be better responded to by harnessing data.

But as that argument is won, a fresh debate is bubbling up under the surface of the glossy prospectus of the smart city: who decides what we do with all this data, and how do we ensure that its generation and use does not result in discrimination, exclusion and the erosion of privacy for citizens?

This report brings together a range of case studies featuring cities which have pioneered innovative practices and policies around the responsible use of data about people. Our methods combined desk research and over 20 interviews with city administrators in a number of cities across the world.


Based on our case studies, we also compile a range of lessons that policymakers can use to build an alternative version to the smart city – one which promotes ethical data collection practices and responsible innovation with new technologies:

  1. Build consensus around clear ethical principles, and translate them into practical policies.
  2. Train public sector staff in how to assess the benefits and risks of smart technologies.
  3. Look outside the council for expertise and partnerships, including with other city governments.
  4. Find and articulate the benefits of privacy and digital ethics to multiple stakeholders
  5. Become a test-bed for new services that give people more privacy and control.
  6. Make time and resources available for genuine public engagement on the use of surveillance technologies.
  7. Build digital literacy and make complex or opaque systems more understandable and accountable.
  8. Find opportunities to involve citizens in the process of data collection and analysis from start to finish….(More)”.