Smart(er) Cities

General Goals

This is a multi-country applied research case studies initiative that examines how innovation from within city governments is making urban systems smarter and shaping people’s lives, how city agencies have been adapting to and adopting new data and technology innovations to make their management systems more inclusive and responsive to decision making and citizens, their success, failures and replicability. Current initiatives include single-city project with New York City (U.S.) and cities-cluster project with Lisbon and Cascais (Portugal). The initiative is being expanded to the UK, China and Latin America as well.

This integrated collection of case studies will help cities reimagine new possibilities for innovation from within city agencies, which—due to current predominant national and international top-down “smart cities” frameworks as well as perceptions of an inefficient public administration—have been insufficiently considered and studied. While the case studies will reveal different aspects of the innovations’ dynamics (e.g. empathy, define, ideate, prototype, test, develop, implement, assess), they will also seek to highlight how innovation can occur at different levels of a city administration (e.g. management, procurement and contracting, operations, service delivery, civic engagement, performance). This will increase the significance and applicability of these cases to potential innovators across city agencies around the world and academia in general.

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Specific Objectives and Research Questions

We highlight five cross-cutting themes: (1) inter-agency connectivity and collaboration, (2) public-private dialogue, (3) technology and real-time data collection, (4) responsiveness and decision-making, and (5) results and impact. The multi-country projects’ unifying specific objectives are to:

  • Describe the process of how specific smart city innovations were initiated, developed and implemented within city agencies;
  • Reveal key roles, interactions, decisions, challenges and best practices that contributed to successful innovation and solutions;
  • Uncover behavioral aspects capable of hindering creativity and innovation across city agencies;
  • Identify institutional elements, incentives and contextual variables that fostered innovation;
  • Highlight organizational attributes that supported innovation;
  • Discuss how city programs compare to similar programs around the world;
  • Describe outcomes and discuss the assessment and impact of the initiatives;
  • Recommend next-generation enhancements to these programs; discuss how city innovation policies can facilitate growth of these programs; discuss the “way forward” for optimizing benefits;
  • Showcase the city as an incubator and test-bed for innovative smart city initiatives and help reimagine bottom-up possibilities that emerge from within public administration.

Target Audience

These cases studies are developed with six types of readers in mind:

  • City officials from around the world wanting to learn with each other.
  • Officials of The City of New York and Lisbon Area wanting to learn from their respective piers.
  • Students of Master, Doctoral and Executive Education/Training programs.
  • Scholars looking for new teaching materials on the ‘smart cities’ and urban systems topics.
  • Practitioners in charge of developing similar projects in the U.S., Portugal and around the world.
  • Policy makers wanting to know what works and how it works.