UK – Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have produced guidance on managing ‘smart city’ governance for the United Nations.

interlinked city smart city concept

Luca Mora and Paolo Gerli from the university’s business school led the research team behind the project, which offers practical guidance to local and regional governments applying new technologies with the aim of improving urban life.

The paper, Managing smart city governance, is based on a review of evidence, a survey of local government leaders from 250 municipalities across five continents, and 131 expert interviews. The findings are split into three pillars: strategy, collaborative ecosystem and technology.

Examples of ‘smart city’ technology include monitoring of traffic data and using online platforms to bolster civic participation.

The research found that 84% of local government respondents acknowledged that their cities continue to grapple with ethical concerns associated with digital technologies, while another 78% felt that there had been a limited involvement of residents in their smart city efforts.

The paper includes examples from Scotland, including the Scottish Cities Alliance, the launch of the Scottish Digital Academy and Glasgow’s participatory budgeting evaluation toolkit.

Edinburgh Napier University jointly produced the document alongside the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, and Tallinn University of Technology.

Mora said: “This playbook draws together evidence-based advice, offering what we hope will be guidance that makes a positive difference around the world.

“Digital technology offers many opportunities for leaders of local and municipal governments – and it could revolutionise the quality of life for people who live in urban areas.

“The potential of these technologies is almost limitless, so it is important that they are put in place strategically and collaboratively to make the most of them.”