What Makes a City “Smart”?

Kris Hartley weighs in, pushing for a broader metric for cities’ smarts than mere efficiency:

Appreciating the complex and paradoxical dimensions of smart cities can help improve human welfare, particularly when leaders and citizens look beyond efficiency. Rather than optimizing discrete goals, the new architecture of smart cities should be oriented towards broader social and political outcomes. Planner and academic Murtaza H. Baxamusa recently stated, “To be effective, urban planning needs to dig deeper than obscure code, pretty pictures and jumbling data. It needs to make a difference in the lives of all people” . . .

While technology improves certain aspects of business and governance, its broader potential should not be undersold. The new ‘smart’ implies extension of opportunities to the disadvantaged, broadening of political participation, and enabling of social forces to shape urban space for the greater good.

Hartley is working on his PhD at the National University of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His recent piece at NewGeography.com is here.

Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16

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