A New Governance Model for Smart Cities

Cities are growing at a breath-taking pace. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities.  This is expected to rise, creating new challenges for city managers.

One way to address this is through technology, data and innovation.  Cities need to be agile to manage and deliver Smart initiatives. But how does a city begin the journey towards becoming a Smart city?

SmartImpact is an URBACT partnership of 10 European cities looking beyond technology and exploring the key factors behind the successful management and delivery of Smart city initiatives.

SmartImpact seeks to respond to these new city challenges.  The project focus is not just about the technology, it is about the ways to manage the complex ecosystems of people, processes, politics and stakeholders that make up a Smart city.  The aim is to create new ways of working so that cities can become more liveable and sustainable.

SmartImpact’s Smart City Planning Themes

An overview animation explains the project and there are a range of resources online. 

The five SmartImpact themes:

  1. Data Governance & Integration
    Data brings challenges and opportunities. A Smart society charter with seven data principles provides a helpful framework.
  2. Organisational Development
    Developing a Smart city is an opportunity to cut across older, fragmented structures, linking different departments for more efficient delivery of public services.
  3. Smart Finance & Procurement Initiatives
    Investing in Smart city solutions has the potential to save costs or even generate revenue for cities.
  4. Supportive Regulations & Incentives
    Regulations and incentives enable steering of behaviour and investments, creating a desired city future.
  5. Supporting Local Innovation Ecosystems
    Change is enabled when cities work to create optimal conditions where new and innovative solutions can thrive.

Partner City Highlights

If you’d like to connect with the high level of expertise in each of the SmartImpact partner cities, here is a snapshot of some of their strengths and interests:

Smart city highlight
Manchester, UKDigital skills, innovation and business growth CityVerve is the city’s IoT smart city demonstrator
Dublin, IrelandSmartDublin initiative with four local authorities and regional open data portal, DubLinked.
Eindhoven, the NetherlandsData and IoT charters – guidance on how to use data and combine it from different sources. Urban innovation projects, such as lighting
Guadalajara, SpainIntegrated smart city programme for data and services Smart Guadalajara portal
Miskolc, HungaryMultiple innovation projects to become a smarter city
Porto, PortugalFocus on open data and building innovation ecosystems Innovation Hub – a living lab that involves local people in policy making
Smolyan, BulgariaCreating a more diversified and sustainable economy
Stockholm, SwedenA strong reputation for smart city initiatives Now increasing co-ordination across administrative units for a more cross-disciplinary approach to city innovation projects
Suceava, RomaniaSustainable energy initiatives Supporting creative and innovative sectors
Zagreb, CroatiaEncouraging a start-up and innovation culture


“The digitisation of the economy and society will change our cities and communities in a similar way to automobiles and industrialisation in the past. Agility and innovative drive will become new key competences for digital transformation with respect to city administrations.” 

Steffen Braun
Head of Business Unit Mobility and Urban Systems Engineering, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering.

“The ‘Smart City’ isn’t a technology concept; it’s the political challenge of adapting one of the most powerful economic and social forces of our time to the needs of the places where most of us live and work”

Rick Robinson, writing as The Urban Technologist.

Additional References

European Smart Cities by the Vienna University of Technology

The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities

Huawei Smart Cities Report (May, 2016)