New Report Argues For A National Smart Cities Policy


A new report released today from the Center for Data Innovation argues that smart city policies will not be successful over the long-term without a national policy framework. The Center, a think tank focused on data and public policy, identifies key barriers standing in the way of smart cities and offers a series of recommendations for national governments to support municipal efforts.

The report identifies five key challenges limiting smart city development: high levels of risk when it comes to making necessary investments, a lack of focus on smart infrastructure, the need for interconnected systems and scale, lagging communities of practice that share information about what works best, and the need to ensure equitable distribution and application of smart city technologies.

“Acting alone, individual cities are not equipped to quickly and effectively become smart cities. National governments should step in to enact policies that enable this transition,” said Daniel Castro, the Center’s director and a co-author of the report.

In the report, authors argue that the adoption of smart city technologies will remain uneven without a national policy because only the biggest cities will have the resources to implement the technology and bear the risk of failure. As the authors see it, many mid-tier and smaller cities are depending on the prime mover municipalities to do testing and remove many of the early risks before they jump in. A national policy, the authors argue, could help mitigate some of that risk with a federal backstop.

Where would national support come from? The paper is pushing for a sliver of federal infrastructure spending to be allocated to smart cities programs and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Authors are also pushing for a federal effort to spearhead standardization within smart cities programs to avoid the creation of yet another fragmented technology infrastructure across municipal governments.

“Technologies will continue to develop that can bring economic and social benefits to communities they support around the world,” said Joshua New, a policy analyst with the Center and co-author of the report. “Any country that fails to support the development of smart cities will be limited in its ability to take advantage of the economic and social benefits cities can offer.”

The full paper is available here.